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Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy expected to have little local impact

MARIETTA — Although the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, it shouldn’t affect the operations of the local council.

“We are locally controlled and operated, and unrelated financially to the Boy Scouts of America,” said Ed Mulholland, executive director of the Muskingum Valley Council of the BSA. “It really should not have any impact on our local programs.”

Mulholland said the BSA filing for bankruptcy allows it to compensate victims of sexual abuse equally.

“There are a lot since they’ve lifted the statute of limitations,” he explained. “Some 90 percent of cases are from 30 years or before.”

Thousands of Scouts have come forward alleging sexual abuse by their Scout leaders. According to the U.S. News and World Report, nearly 8,000 leaders in Boy Scouts had been accused of sexually abusing children dating back decades. Victims have come forward accusing hundreds more in the last year.

Mulholland said that in the 1980s, the organization started learning the Scouts were being abused, so it developed a “two deep leadership” in which a leader could not be alone with a Scout.

“It protected the leader and the Scout,” he said. “There had to be more than one leader if they were alone with a Scout.”

He said there were leaders who were kicked out of the organization over the years because children might not be safe around them. If there were serious allegations, the leader was reported to the police or children services.

“We kept a list of them so if they wanted to join somewhere else, the other council will know they couldn’t be in a leadership position,” Mulholland added.

Bob Sheridan, River Trails District commissioner, which covers Washington County, excluding Belpre, said there have been casual discussions about the bankruptcy, but no real concerns have been raised locally. He said he doesn’t see an immediate impact on local packs and troops.

“They are the national council and they do a lot in program content. We have four national camps that we send a lot of boys to during the year,” Sheridan said. “They fall under national jurisdiction, so that’s a concern. We hear a lot of the Boy Scout assets are land…real estate. If we don’t have those camps, you really hurt scouting.”

He said the local camps such as Camp Kootaga in Wirt County and the Muskingum Valley Scout Reservation near Coshocton are locally owned.

The local district hasn’t heard a big outcry about the BSA declaring bankruptcy, he said.

“When you get down to the troop and pack levels, they don’t realize national exists,” Sheridan said. “They are focused on their packs and kids. The general conclusion is…are we doing the right things for the kids. That’s where we try to keep our focus.”

Mulholland explained that the local council applies to the national organization to be the ones who implement the scouting program in this area, much like a franchise.

“We apply to do that each year. We collect a membership fee and that goes right through our hands to the national trust,” Mulholland said. “But everything we do locally, we raise our own funds.”

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