I received a letter requesting follow up on the Boy Scouts proof of claim filing but we don't have a Boy Scout Troop.
If you received the email letter, your church either self-identified as having chartered a troop in the past 50 years (or more) , OR, we identified your church as having chartered one based on a list we received from the Boy Scouts. We strongly urge you to complete the form accepting the terms of the proof of claims so that your congregation can have some protections for future claims. The only requirement on the form is acceptance of the proof of claim and confirmation from the chair of the Board of Trustees
Wouldn’t our insurance policy cover any “bad acts” committed on church property by BSA? Conference is covering initial expenses, but what are potential costs to local church down the road?
In short, the insurance policies may not necessarily cover a claim in this situation which is why we’re seeking to protect our churches through filing proof of claims. The conference is covering the cost of filing the proof of claim. Should a lawsuit come to the local church, the proof of claim then allows the church to seek reimbursement from the bankruptcy funds set aside for future claims.
The FAQs gave a deadline of November 16. What if I can't get all the documentation by the 4th?
The deadline to accept the terms of the proof of claim is Friday, 10/30. This will ensure the legal team has the time they need to file the proof of claims by the “bar date” (11/16) set by the bankruptcy court. The 11/4 deadline is when GNJ must provide our complete data to the legal team which is why we’re asking for the forms to be submitted by 10/30.
What kind of fees will my church be expected to pay?
The conference will be covering the costs of filing the proof of claim.
How much time will this take away from my ministry? Will I have to travel any great distances to meet with the law firm or in courts?
The legal team is handling all the work involved in filing the proof of claim. We do not anticipate additional time or travel on the part of congregational leaders.
What about the victims of sexual abuse stemming from the Boy Scouts?
Incidents of sexual abuse are significant and devastating for the lives of the victims. The United Methodist Church supports fair treatment of all sexual violence victims, including persons in these situations, and calls for reconciliation for victims. BSA has set-up victim compensation funds with participation of their insurance carrier.
All victims coming forward and making a claim by November 16, 2020 may be cared for through the victim compensation fund. Claims filed after the date will not be eligible. This is true even for persons making a report after November 16 for an occurrence prior to November 16.
Who is paying for the Proof of Claim?
The Annual Conference is supporting the local churches by paying the initial proof of claim filing with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.
What type of Boy Scout programs are included in the legal filings?
Your congregation should be included in the Proof of Claim is you have chartered or hosted any of the following:
- Cub Scouts
- Blazer Scouts
- Sea Scouts
- Explorer Scout Posts
- Boy Scout Troops
- Other affiliated Boy Scout programs
Why do I need to review records for 50 years?
The imperative for this historic review is due to the nature of potential sexual abuse claims after the claim deadline. Most of the sexual abuse cases coming up now are related to actions that happened 30+ years ago. It may not matter if the abuse happened in the 1970s, and it may not matter if you think your church has nothing to do with a BSA Unit other than allowing them to use space for meetings. Even if you are currently unaware of any potential claims against a BSA Unit if your church had been a Charter Organization going back over 50 years ago, your local church may still be fully responsible for damages arising out of a sexual molestation that far back.
What is the urgency?
A Proof of Claim will provide some protection for local church chartering organizations. All Proofs of Claim must be filed with the trustee in bankruptcy, no later than November 16, 2020 at 5pm EST. GNJ will need to have a list of all churches who will be impacted by October 30, 2020 in order to compile the Proof of Claim.
What is the difference between hosting a Boy Scout Troop and chartering a Boy Scout Troop?
Many churches allow outside organizations like, the Boys Scouts to rent their buildings for meetings. In other cases, the church itself has chartered a Boy Scout Troop or sponsors a Boy Scout Unit. In this case the church signs an “Annual Charter Agreement” which suggests that the church is effectively responsible for conducting the Scouting program in its entirety, including the selection and screening of adult volunteers. As such, a local church that serves as a Charter Organization could be liable for a sexual abuse claim. Because the formal arrangement with the BSA provided coverage for the BSA, GNJ churches did not have financial exposure. The bankruptcy changes the financial exposure for churches that have served as chartering organizations.
What is the financial risk?
If a sexual abuse claim arises, a plaintiff likely sues the national BSA organization, the local Council of the BSA, the local Troop, and the Chartering Organization. Bankruptcy can eliminate the debts of a debtor. Bankruptcy can also extinguish judgements and future claims against the debtor – particularly if the future claim is based on an act that happened before the bankruptcy proceeding. Accordingly, if the BSA goes through the bankruptcy and extinguishes liabilities related to sexual abuse claims, a chartering organization (including our affected local churches) may be the last entity standing with potential liability. The concern is that absent a new Indemnification agreement with the BSA, chartering organizations may lose rights of presently existing protections because of the Bankruptcy.
Is there a denominational action?
Denominational legal leaders from the General Council of Finance and Administration are considering coordinating efforts to try and maximize the leverage of all affected United Methodist churches. This might involve the establishment of a central source for filing of all notices of claims. It also may include a uniform United Methodist effort to join with all other similarly impacted in order to collectively negotiate with the BSA and the bankruptcy trustee during the course of the litigation with the goal of concluding an amicable arrangement going forward. We will keep you posted if these steps are initiated.
What are the deadlines?
GNJ needs your response by October 30, 2020 to meet the deadline for filing a Proof of Claims form on November 16, 2020 at 5pm EST.
Where do I go for questions?
You can email questions to email@example.com.