November 15, 2020 PORTLAND, OR –
On Monday, November 16th at 5:00PM Eastern Time, the deadline for submission of claims will expire in the Boy Scouts of America’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.
“As the deadline quickly approaches, there are over 82,000 sexual abuse claims filed. Based on the flurry of filings the past few days, we would not be surprised to see in the end as many as 100,000 sexual abuse claims filed against the Boy Scouts,” said attorney Stephen Crew of Portland law firm Crew Janci LLP.
Portland law firm Crew Janci is considered one of the “go to” law firms for sexual abuse cases, in Oregon and beyond. In addition to their Boy Scout work, they have made national news representing victims of abuse at elite private schools, like the Pingry School in New Jersey. They currently represent many of the victims with sexual abuse claims against Catlin Gabel school, and have other cases pending against the public schools, the Archdiocese of Portland and other youth-serving organizations. They also currently represent several Native Americans sexually abused by an Indian Health Services doctor in a case against the federal government.
Still, despite their extensive experience representing victims of sexual abuse across the country, the attorneys say the scope of the Boy Scouts sex abuse scandal is “astounding”: “This is the largest number of sexual abuse claims ever filed against an institution. This eclipses all of the sex abuse claims ever brought against the Catholic Church across the United States, combined,” said attorney Peter Janci.
Crew Janci now represents more than 400 victims with claims in the Boy Scouts bankruptcy. Their clients fall along a wide spectrum. “This tragedy stretches across all types of categories. We represent not only many men, but also a number of women who were abused in the BSA’s co-ed programs. Our clients range from 10 years old to those over 80 years old. Sexual abuse of youth was a problem that began very early in Scouting’s history and continues today,” said Janci. “Sexual abuse is still happening in the Boy Scouts’ programs. We represent a number of children who were abused in recent years in Oregon and elsewhere.”
The Portland law firm is also playing another important role in the bankruptcy proceedings. In March of this year, the United State Bankruptcy Trustee formed a Tort Claimants Committee to act as a fiduciary on behalf of all victims who file claims for abuse in connection with the Boy Scouts. One of the firm’s clients has been named the Chairman of the national Tort Claimants Committee. The Committee is made up of nine men who were sexually abused as Scouts. As counsel to the Chairman, Crew and Janci are regularly involved in the Tort Claimant Committee’s proceedings.
This bankruptcy comes as the culmination of more than 15 years of work by Crew and Janci helping victims sue the Boy Scouts for Sexual Abuse. In 2010, attorneys from Crew Janci were part of the Plaintiff’s trial team in the 2010 case of Kerry Lewis v. Boy Scouts of America, tried before a Portland jury, which resulted in a $19.9 million verdict for the victim. Two years later, in 2012, after a legal battle that went up to the Oregon Supreme Court, they published an online database to make publicly available thousands of the Perversion Files presented as evidence at the Lewistrial.
“After the files were released, and victims could see for themselves the documentation of the massive problem and ongoing negligence of the Scouts, the litigation just exploded across the country,” said Janci.
Thereafter, attorneys from the Portland, Oregon law firm represented more than 100 individuals with abuse claims against the Boy Scouts in states across the country, including in: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington.
The firm currently has dozens of filed lawsuits pending against the Boy Scouts in Oregon, Montana, New York, New Jersey, and Arkansas. These cases were halted by the Boy Scouts’ filing for bankruptcy – “stayed” by order of the bankruptcy court while the bankruptcy process unfolds. But the firm is still preparing to file more lawsuits.
“We are continuing to file lawsuits as needed to preserve our clients’ rights. We will be filing a number of lawsuits in Arizona over the next six weeks, due to the closing of a statute of limitations window there. We will then be preparing to file lawsuits in New Jersey and California, as well as more lawsuit in New York and in other states,” said Crew.
The attorneys explain that these new lawsuits are aimed at the Boy Scouts’ local chapters (called “local councils”) which usually cover a large territory within a particular state. “The local councils have not yet demonstrated that they are committed to fairly compensating victims through the bankruptcy process. If they decide not to participate in a very substantial way, we will be litigating against them in their respective state courts,” said Crew.
“The local councils are equally culpable for the abuse our clients’ suffered. In many incidents, the local council leaders turned a blind eye to serious red flags indicating that abuse was occurring,” said Janci.
Some of the new lawsuits the firm will be filing will also name as defendants those religious and civic organizations that sponsored and helped operate thousands of troops around the United States, most notably the Mormon Church. “Sponsoring organizations like the Mormon Church and others have not yet demonstrated a commitment to providing substantial compensation to victims through the bankruptcy process. If they don’t, we’ll be there waiting for them in state courts,” said Janci.
For the last several months, a team of social workers, paralegals, clerks and attorneys at the firm have been working nights and weekends to get all their clients’ claims submitted. Still, even today, calls and emails from new victims continue to pour in. “The phones have been ringing off the hook. Many sexual abuse survivors are still scrambling to try to get a claim filed before the Monday deadline,” said Crew.
Victims can still file a claim on their own to beat tomorrow’s deadline. “Go to the official website, fill out the ‘Sexual Abuse Survivor Proof of Claim Form,’ and get it uploaded as soon as you can before the deadline tomorrow (Monday 11/16). After you file your Proof of Claim, you can still consult with a lawyer to help you going forward in the bankruptcy process. A good lawyer who knows these cases and this process may still be able to help you amend your claim after the deadline passes, as long as you get the form filled out to your best ability and submitted before the deadline on 11/16,” said Janci.
The next hearing in the Boy Scouts bankruptcy proceeding is schedule for December 16th.
Attorneys from Crew Janci are available for further comment at:
- Steve Crew: 503-306-0224 (o) / 503-804-3884 (m) [email protected]
- Peter Janci: 503-306-0224 (o) / 503-550-6577 (m) [email protected]
Crew Janci LLP www.crewjanci.com