LOS ANGELES - The Boy Scouts of America have filed for bankruptcy protection. It comes as the century-old organization faces hundreds of lawsuits from men who say they were sexually abused as Scouts.
“I tried to kill myself a couple of times, it didn’t work,” Gill Gayle said.
Gayle was a Boy Scout from the age of 11 to 14.
An alleged victim of abuse twice by scout leaders, he says left him suicidal. He’s part of a Southern California lawsuit of some 1700 abuse victims.
Gayle describes his reaction to news of the Scouts bankruptcy filing.
"Emotionally I feel like I got hit in the face with a shovel and it’s just this overwhelming dread and anxiety that comes with being a sexual assault victim,” Gayle said.
The National Boy Scouts of America sent a letter to its local scouting chapters announcing that it is entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The organization created a 4-minute YouTube video explaining the process and what it means.
“The first goal of our restructuring is to equitably compensate victims who were harmed during their time in scouting,” explained in the video.
Los Angeles based Attorney Paul Mones speaking to FOX 11 via Skype from Delaware where the bankruptcy hearing is taking place. He represents dozens of men who claim they were abused in scouting.
In 2010, he won the largest judgment ever - $19.9 million against the Boy Scouts for the childhood sexual abuse of an Oregon man. “These men will not be able to stand before a jury and say to the Boy Scouts of America you harmed me, basically and put the officials of the Boy Scouts of America in the witness stand to have them answer questions,” Mones said.
Instead, they will become creditors as the courts determine what happens to the organization’s $1.4 billion dollars in assets including its many popular camps.
“Their records alone show thousands of boys who were sexually assaulted at those Scout camps,” Gayle said.
The bankruptcy impacts the national organization and the Boy Scouts say local troops will not be impacted.
But, for alleged victims like Gil Gayle and thousands of others, Scouting has left a permanent scar, “None of us come back all the way, not a single man I’ve talked to whose life wasn’t compromised,” Gayle said.
The Scouts say they have changed their policies in recent years including background checks for leaders, no one-on-one interaction between adults and kids and stricter policies for reporting abuse.
FOX 11's Shelly Insheiwat contributed.