With hundreds of sex-abuse lawsuits piling up like logs on a campfire, it will soon cost nearly twice as much to become a Boy Scout of America.
The once-storied organization sent out a notice to leaders that the registration fee will nearly double from $33 to $60 on Jan. 1, blaming the increase on the rising “cost of insurance.”
“Everybody knows what this is really all about,” fumed Charles Greinsky, vice president of the Staten Island Council Boy Scouts of America, who has been involved in scouting since 1963. “This is about the pedophiles and the insurance we have to pay because of these pedophiles and the fact that the Scouts knew about many of them for years.”
Greinsky called the hike “horrendous,” charging that the scandal-scarred Scouts have been “mismanaged at the national level” for years. “The Scouts have been fighting for survival. There’s been a dwindling membership. … I’m afraid that scouting is on the verge of extinction,” he said.
In April, stunning court documents revealed that the Boy Scouts believed more than 7,800 of its former leaders allegedly abused over 12,000 victims from 1944 through 2016. The court testimony was publicized by attorney Jeff Anderson, whose firm represents victims of sexual abuse.
With the Boy Scouts previously hinting it will file for bankruptcy, Houston-based attorney Tim Kosnoff started a national television advertising campaign seeking victims. In a few months, he has signed up 1,325 people from 48 states and two territories as potential plaintiffs.
Kosnoff and partner Andrew Van Arsdale have 100 clients in New York state and New Jersey alone ready to sue the Boy Scouts. One of those clients, Johnny Austin, who survived abuse in New Jersey in the 1970s, told The Post the membership fee increase signifies the Boy Scouts “know they have a fight coming and they heard from their attorneys what that fight will cost them. … I advise those parents who are thinking of paying an organization double to cover up all the horrible, disgusting so-called men that prey on your children to think again.”
Said attorney Van Arsdale: “Any amount of money you pay this organization (for membership) is foolish because they have not proven they care enough about protecting children.”
The Child Victims Act (CVA), passed by the New York state legislature in February, opened a “look back” window on Aug. 14 — a one-year chance to bring old sex abuse cases to court.
Jeff Herman, a New York attorney, has brought numerous cases against the Boy Scouts under CVA. He said “it’s very possible” the Scouts “are trying to raise money to pay for their past misdeeds and the liability for the lawsuits being brought.”
Larry Goanos, a veteran commercial insurance consultant based in New Jersey said the Scouts are facing “an uphill battle” in getting insurance to cover an avalanche of sex abuse cases. The Penn State scandal involving pedophile coach Jerry Sandusky “triggered a sea change” in commercial insurance,” Goanos said, adding, many carriers started to refuse coverage for sex abuse claims.
“If the Boy Scouts can even find the coverage, it will be very expensive and will most likely carry a high deductible, maybe in the millions,” Goanos said. “Whatever premium they were paying before these allegations came to light will probably be tripled.”
Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the US, with approximately 2.2 million youth participants and about 1 million adult volunteers.
The Boy Scouts of America did not acknowledge that sex abuse lawsuits had triggered the membership dues increase.
“In the face of rising operating costs, the Boy Scouts of America made this difficult, but necessary, decision so we can continue to provide essential services that support once-in-a-lifetime adventures in a safe and welcoming place,” a BSA spokesman said. “Studies prove and parents agree that Scouting helps young people become more kind, helpful and prepared for life, and as long as those values remain important to our society, Scouting will continue to be an invaluable partner to families.”
Additional reporting by Kathianne Boniello
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