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No changes expected locally in Boy Scouts bankruptcy

Officials do not expect that the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy filing will have a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of local scouting troops and activities.

In a statement, Allegany Highlands Council Scout Executive Nate Thorton addressed the relationship between regional councils and the Boy Scouts of America, which is based in Irving, Texas.

“The Allegheny Highlands Council has not filed for bankruptcy,” Thorton said. “Meetings and activities, district and council events, other scouting adventures and countless service projects are taking place as usual. In short, there should be no change to the local scouting experience.”

The Boy Scouts announced Tuesday that the organization would file for bankruptcy protection as a preliminary measure in creating a compensation fund for victims of child molestation.

According to the Associated Press, the Boy Scouts estimate that 1,000 to 5,000 victims will seek compensation, which could necessitate a compensation fund of over $1 billion.

Gathering these funds could require the organization to sell off some of its real estate holdings around the county.

Documents revealed during court proceedings indicated that according to the Boy Scouts, more than 12,000 boys have been molested by 7,800 abusers since the 1920s.

“The national organization of the Boy Scouts of America is the only entity involved in the Chapter 11 filing,” Thorton said.

“The Allegheny Highlands Council – which provides programming, financial, facility and administrative support to local units and individual scouts in our area — is separate and distinct from the national organization. Our camps, properties and all local contributions are controlled by our council.”

The Allegany Highlands Council is responsible for serving nearly 2,500 youths in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties in New York as well as McKean and Potter counties in Pennsylvania.

Thorton’s statements echo the response that the Chief Cornplanter Council issued to the Times Observer newspaper in Warren, Pa., with both stressing the fact that councils are independent entities.

In September 2019, the Allegany Highlands Council, the Boy Scouts and Donald C. Shriver of Lakewood were named in a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Chautauqua County.

The plaintiffs in that lawsuit alleged abuse by Shriver, and offered a cause of action stating that “the Allegheny Highlands Council and Boy Scouts of America negligently failed to use due care in selecting Shriver as a scout leader and didn’t fully investigate his background or propensities.”

Shriver pleaded guilty in April 2019 to a charge of corruption of minors, a third-degree felony, and was sentenced to serve 11 to 24 months less one day in Crawford County Jail.

That sentence included five years of probation, a $150 fine, court costs and mandated that Shriver have no contact with minor children unless they are biologically related to him, according to the Meadville Tribune.

Shriver was immediately removed from scouting as soon as the Allegheny Highlands Council was made aware of the allegation, with Thornton issuing a statement condemning his actions as reprehensible.

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