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The United Methodist Church will raise $30 million to compensate sexual abuse survivors, absolving the church of any sexual abuse claims stemming from church-sponsored scouting programs, according to details from a new settlement.
United Methodist leaders have reached the settlement, pending court approval, as part of the Boy Scouts of America’s pending bankruptcy proceedings. Under the terms of the agreement, the church would raise the funds over three years in exchange for releasing their congregations from all abuse claims involving Boy Scout activities.
The settlement follows an August directive from Iowa Bishop Laurie Haller that asked churches to stop chartering Boy Scouts troops. By stopping charter agreements and replacing them with facilities use agreements through the end of this year, the Iowa Conference hoped to limit liability after learning the Boy Scouts of America didn’t have enough insurance to cover sponsoring churches, as promised.
That $30 million amount will be part of a proposed settlement that could exceed $2.7 billion when combined with efforts from the Scouts national organization, local councils, insurance companies and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to the Washington Post. The Scouts told the Post that ad hoc committees representing Catholic organizations are still in the mediation process, too.
The Scouts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2020 as it faced scores of lawsuits from men who said they were abused by troop leaders as children. In August, a judge approved an $850 million bankruptcy settlement to resolve 82,000 sexual abuse claims.
Under the United Methodist Church deal, each regional conference of the church, like the Iowa Conference, will be asked to make a contribution based on the number of sexual abuse claims associated with their churches.
The United Methodist’s settlement follows months of mediation with a committee of church leaders. It has the support of both the Scouts and the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice, according to Bishop John Schol, chair of the United Methodist Church leadership team created to support chartering churches in the bankruptcy matter.
The Council of Bishops for the United Methodist Church have committed to raising funds for survivors, telling the story of harm done to survivors through a series of articles, completing a denomination-wide review of policies to guard youth from sexual abuse and lead efforts to help all Scouting chartering organizations make a $100 million contribution to the Survivor Trust Fund.
“We are sorry for what occurred and are praying for all those who experienced harm through scouting activities,” Schol said in a statement. “We are committed to the protection of children and youth, and the United Methodist Council of Bishops will be working with the church, the Survivor Working Group and BSA to address policies, programs and procedures in order to keep scouts safe from abuse.”
Agreement terms stipulate that denomination leaders will “intensify efforts” to prevent and raise awareness of child sexual abuse. The church’s statement said the church also will work with the United Methodist Men to ensure scouting safety and grow scouting ministry.
Over 3,000 United Methodist churches have chartered over 9,000 Scouting units serving more than 300,000 youth, according to United Methodist Men, which oversees the denomination’s Scouting ministries. The church said only 1 percent of claims occurred between 2000 and 2020.
“While one claim is too many, United Methodists have developed Safe Sanctuaries policies that are better protecting youth from harm,” Schol told The Gazette.
A representative for the Iowa Conference could not be reached for comment.
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