Local Boy Scout operations are unlikely to be affected by the bankruptcy filing of Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday, according to a representative for the Rio Grande Council BSA.
BSA made the filing while facing hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits; because of the bankruptcy filing, civil litigation against the organization is suspended.
Local council President Manny Guerra III says that local Boy Scout activities should continue as normal despite the filing.
“It’s not going to affect us one bit,” he said. “We’re going to continue to pay our employees and vendors and operate as usual. Most importantly, the unit meetings, district and council events, community service projects, recruitment and other activities will continue just the same as they always have.”
According to Guerra, national organizations and local organizations are distinct from each other.
“Councils in Texas are 501c3 organizations, the national is a separate 501c3 and the council is legally separate and distinct for the national organization and fully controls its own assets, and we are not included in the national organization chapter 11 filing,” he said.
Guerra also says that Camp Perry, a 260-acre property north of Rio Hondo, will not be threatened by the filing.
“That’s a council resource that was donated by Charles F. Perry back in the early 1900s,” Guerra said, adding that he had heard “rumblings” of bankruptcy within the national organization months ago and “understood they were contemplating it.”
The Rio Grande Valley was not immune to the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Boy Scouts of America: former Mission scout leader Genaro Vela was convicted of sexual assault of a child and possession of child pornography in 2007.
Guerra says most of the allegations of abuse relate to incidents that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, and that the organization has taken steps to protect its members.
“We care about all victims of child abuse; we support those claims and we believe those claims,” he said. “Ninety percent of all the claims are prior to 1997. In 2018 there’s been five known sex abuse claims out of the 2.2 million youth that are in scouting, so the Youth Protection Training in scouts currently is effective and it’s working. The number of claims of sex abuse are from the 50s, 60s and 70s.”
Guerra says that regulations implemented by the Youth Protection Training include rules that forbid scouts from being alone with an adult who is not their parent or guardian and training for scouts and scoutmasters on preventing and reporting abuse.
“There’s not any type of cover up or anything like that, everything’s out in the open. We care about every victim of child abuse, and we believe and support them,” Guerra said. “We’re confident that the Youth Protection Training is really working and we intend for it to continue to work.”