The youth organization, which celebrated its 110th anniversary February 8, listed liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million, but $50,000 or less in assets.
The bankruptcy filing comes at a time when the organization faces hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits, thousands of alleged abuse victims and dwindling membership numbers. As a result of the filing, all civil litigation against the organization is suspended.
Paul Mones, a Los Angeles-based attorney representing "hundreds of sexual abuse victims in individual lawsuits," called the organization's bankruptcy filing a "tragedy."
"These young boys took an oath. They pledged to be obedient, pledged to support the Scouts and pledged to be honorable. Many of them are extremely angry that that's not what happened to them and the Boy Scouts of America did not step up in the way they should have," Mones said.
The BSA was fielding several hundred sexual abuse lawsuits
The BSA faced hundreds of lawsuits from alleged sexual abuse victims across the country -- all of which are now suspended because of the bankruptcy filing.
"We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward. It is the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement," the organization said.
Michael Pfau, a Seattle-based attorney whose firm represents 300 alleged victims across the country, said the bankruptcy claims process will be decidedly different for those suffering due to the BSA's alleged inaction.
"They won't have to give depositions involving their life history. Their lives won't be scrutinized, but they lose their right to a jury trial. For a lot of abuse survivors, telling their story in a court of law and forcing the organizations to defend their actions can be cathartic. That won't happen with a bankruptcy," Pfau said.
Pfau estimates the number of claimants will eclipse those of the Catholic church.
"The Catholic bankruptcies are limited in geographic scope. Here there will be claimants from all 50 states and the American territories," Pfau said. "We can talk about files and numbers, but in reality if you step back and realize the scope of the human carnage, it's stunning."
New members, a new president, and a new partnership
"We sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed in Scouting," BSA CEO and President Roger Mosby said in announcing the partnership. "In addition to implementing strong policies to prevent abuse, we are dedicated to supporting victims when and how they need it."
For alleged victims, however, the organization's bankruptcy filing may represent another institution that failed to protect them and is avoiding taking responsibility for the abuse that happened under its watch.
"We need to make sure we receive some accountability and if (bankruptcy court) is how we have to do it, then so be it," Pfau said.