NEW YORK, Nov. 2, 2021 – The Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice (the “Coalition”) – a group of about 18,000 abuse survivors represented by law firms who collectively represent more than 60,000 survivors – and the Boy Scouts of America (“BSA”) jointly announced today that they have formed a Survivor Advisory Working Group (the “Survivor Working Group”) to focus and improve upon BSA’s current and future youth protection policies, programs and protocols.
The Survivor Working Group will work with BSA leadership to, among other things, continue to enhance the BSA’s current youth protection program, discuss and address survivor concerns, assist in preparation for and implementation of the non-economic commitments of the BSA under the Plan of Reorganization, and discuss how to expand the input of survivors at the national and local council level.
The Survivor Working Group will be comprised of between 15-20 members, including between 8-12 survivors who are members of the Coalition, and at least 6 representatives of BSA, including (1) the CEO/Chief Scout Executive, (2) the Chair of BSA’s Safe Scouting Support Committee, (3) the Executive Vice President and Youth Development Officer, (4) the Director of Membership Standards, (5) the Chair of BSA’s Audit and Risk Management Standing Committee of the Executive Board, and (6) a representative of the Ad Hoc Committee of Local Councils. Importantly, the Coalition demanded that the Working Group be open to all survivors, to ensure that all perspectives are heard.
The Working Group will begin meeting within the next two weeks and convene regularly until BSA emerges from its Chapter 11 proceedings, at which point its work will be transitioned to the Child Protection Committee, a survivor advisory group which BSA, after negotiations with the Coalition, has already agreed to form pursuant to its Plan of Reorganization.
This announcement follows a recent commitment from the BSA to appoint a survivor to its National Executive Board. Both the formation of a Survivor Working Group and the addition of a survivor to the BSA Board are the direct result of Coalition negotiations with the BSA.
“I am cautiously optimistic about this agreement by the BSA to work with those survivors, like me, who have been harmed by Scout leaders in the past,” said Survivor Gill Gayle, who will be a member of the Survivor Working Group. “It is a step in the right direction to recognize the voices of Survivors in a meaningful way, but the proof will be how much they actually listen and implement our suggestions and recommendations. We will have a good sense of that in the coming months.”
“One of the most important things for me, and every Survivor, from day one of this case was making sure that the abuse we suffered never happens to another Scout again,” said Greg, a survivor who asked to be identified only by his first name, and will be part of the advisory group. “I want to speak to the very top levels of the BSA organization and make sure the perspective of more than 82,000 individuals who were harmed like me are taken into account.”
Another member of the Survivor Working Group, Michael Lipari, who served in the armed forces and was deployed in Iraq, stated, “One can be bitter, or one can try to make things better. The Coalition is trying to make things better by pushing for and establishing this Working Group. We hope that each Survivor will stop fighting against each other and instead work together on this most important issue.”
Roger Mosby, Chief Executive Officer of the BSA, said, “We are devastated that there were times in our past when the BSA failed to adequately protect the children in our care, and we are deeply sorry for the suffering that every survivor of abuse has experienced. We want to assure the survivor community that we are committed to listening to them and continuing to improve our Youth Protection program based on their input, as well as the input of our own experts. We hope that today’s announcement will further demonstrate our commitment to the Survivor community. We appreciate the Coalition’s leadership in this effort, and fully stand behind the Working Group, its purposes, and its goals. We look forward to working with Survivors to ensure their voices are heard.”
Virtual Information Meetings for Survivors
The Coalition will be hosting regular virtual meetings to keep the survivor community apprised of updates ahead of the December 14, 2021 deadline to vote for the Plan. The next virtual meeting will be held Tuesday, November 2, 2021, at 8:00 PM ET. For information on the benefits of The Plan, instructions on how to vote, or access to the next virtual meeting, visit scoutingabusesurvivors.com.
About the Coalition
The Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice includes approximately 18,000 abuse survivors, represented by law firms who collectively represent more than 63,000 childhood sexual abuse survivors. The Coalition’s goals include: ensuring fair and equitable treatment for abuse survivors; establishing the largest possible compensation fund for survivors, to be distributed as expeditiously as possible; and focusing on the future of the BSA, including youth protection.
About the Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America provides the nation’s foremost youth programs of character development and values-based leadership training, which help young people be “Prepared. For Life.®” For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, please visit www.Scouting.org.
Andrew Merrill / Brian Schaffer / Joan Vollero
SOURCE The Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice and the Boy Scouts of America