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Boy Scouts of America agrees $850m settlement over sexual abuse claims

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The Boy Scouts of America has reached a $850m (£617m) settlement with lawyers representing some 60,000 people over claims of historical child abuse.

The organisation said the agreement marked “a significant milestone… as the BSA works toward our dual imperatives of equitably compensating survivors of abuse and preserving the mission of scouting”.

Lawyers said it would be one of the largest sums in US history involving sexual abuse claims.

In February, the BSA filed for bankruptcy protection to halt hundreds of lawsuits and create a compensation fund after thousands of new claims were made against the non-profit organisation.

The agreement also includes lawyers representing local Boy Scouts councils and those appointed to represent victims who might file future claims.

But BSA lawyers have been unable to get victims’ lawyers, its local councils and sponsoring organisations, and insurers to agree on a resolution that would compensate victims while allowing the organisation to continue operating.

This may be left to be resolved in future court battles, a prospect the BSA had tried to avoid.

In a court filing on Thursday, insurers said the BSA excluded them from negotiations and gave victims’ lawyers too much of a say in crafting a settlement.

“With only the fox guarding the henhouse, the outcome is utterly at odds with what BSA itself asserted was necessary for a confirmable plan and is permissible under the bankruptcy code,” the insurers wrote.

The BSA has struggled in recent times, due to declining memberships and rafts of abuse allegations stretching back to the 1980s.

Since then, new prevention policies on leadership applicants have been introduced, including background checks, abuse-prevention training and a rule that requires more then one adult to be around at all times.

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