Boy Scouts bankruptcy judge pushes abuse settlement hearing after reviews

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The Cushman Watt Scout Center, headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America for the Los Angeles Area Council, is pictured in Los Angeles, California October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

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(Reuters) – The final hearing on the Boy Scouts of America’s proposed reorganization plan and underlying sexual abuse settlement has been pushed back to allow survivors who want to change their vote on the pact more time to understand the recently revised terms of the agreement.

On Friday, US bankruptcy judge Laurie Selber Silverstein in Wilmington, who is overseeing the youth organization’s bankruptcy and will ultimately decide whether to approve the abuse deal, pushed back the start of the hearing, which had already been postponed to March 14. David Buchbinder, an attorney with the US Department of Justice’s bankruptcy watchdog, the US trustee, and other attorneys, told Silverstein that the recent changes were significant and likely to be confusing for some survivors.

The Boy Scouts announced an amended agreement Feb. 10 that brought key support for the settlement from the official committee representing survivors of the youth organization’s bankruptcy. Survivors have long been divided over the settlement, but with the committee now on board, the organization is reaching out to survivors who opposed the settlement in an attempt to persuade them to change their votes.

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The Irving, Texas-based youth group filed for bankruptcy in February 2020 to resolve decades of sexual abuse allegations.

The settlement still includes a $2.7 billion trust to compensate men who say they were sexually abused as children by troop leaders. But it also provides an “independent review” option for survivors who say they have suffered particularly serious abuse, allowing for a more thorough assessment of their claims than the plan originally intended. This option comes with a fee of up to $20,000.

The revised terms also provide, among other changes, enhanced child protection measures.

Buchbinder said at Friday’s hearing that the amended agreement took him several hours to read and process. If attorneys struggle to understand “substantial” changes to the settlement, he said, so will survivors.

A Boy Scouts representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Representing the official committee, Richard Pachulski said the “independent review” fee is necessary because the process will be “like a trial,” and the Boy Scouts and committee did not want to impose any additional fees on the trust.

More than 82,000 abuse complaints have been filed against the Boy Scouts. The plan is currently backed by 73.57% of survivors who voted, just short of the 75% it aimed for. Survivors who wish to change their vote have until March 7 to do so.

The case is In re Boy Scouts of America, US Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 20-10343.

For the Boy Scouts: Jessica Lauria, Mike Andolina, Matt Linder and Laura Baccash of White & Case; and Derek Abbott and Andrew Remming of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell

For the US Administrator: David Buchbinder and Hannah McCollum

Read more:

Boy Scouts of America wins key support for sexual abuse settlement

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