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US Boy Scouts file for bankruptcy after abuse scandal

Bankruptcy proceedings will help the Boy Scouts to 'equitably compensate' victims through the establishment of a victims' compensation trust and allow the organisation to continue at a local level, a statement from the group said.

FILE: A Boy Scout uniform hangs in a store at the Marin Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy Tuesday in what it said was an effort to safeguard compensation payouts for sexual abuse victims.

The organisation has been accused of covering up generations of abuse inflicted on thousands of its young members and failing to do enough to root out pedophiles using the youth movement to prey on minors over its 110-year history.

Bankruptcy proceedings will help the Boy Scouts to "equitably compensate" victims through the establishment of a victims' compensation trust and allow the organisation to continue at a local level, a statement from the group said.

"The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologises to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting," chief executive Roger Mosby said in the statement.

The organisation estimates liabilities of up to $1 billion, according to court filings lodged Tuesday.

The national Boy Scouts council and its affiliated local councils together hold nearly $5 billion in assets, according to a Wall Street Journal report last month.

More than 12,000 members of the Boy Scouts had been sexually abused in the organisation since 1944, victims' lawyer Jeff Anderson said last year.

He also said files maintained by the Boy Scouts listed more than 7,800 alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse.

The existence of that documentation - known as the "perversion files" and listing scoutmasters or troop leaders accused of sexual abuse - was first revealed in a 2012 court case.

At the time the organisation admitted its response to the scandal had been "plainly insufficient, inappropriate or wrong" said it had overhauled its procedures to protect members.

"The BSA today has some of the strongest, expert-informed youth protection policies found in any youth-serving organisation, including mandatory youth protection training and background checks for all volunteers and staff," the organisation said Tuesday.

Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has around 2.2 million members between the ages of five and 21, the organisation said.

Lawsuits against the group have multiplied in recent years, thanks in part to state legislative changes that have increased the statute of limitations for cases of sexual abuse against minors.

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