The deadline to file sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America ended Monday, the latest marker in a saga that has damaged the reputation of the national youth organization in recent years.
At least 81,500 individuals had filed claims by the end of last week, as part of the Texas-based organization's bankruptcy proceeding, according to the Dallas Morning News. When the final tally is released, that number could be higher.
A spokesman for the local Central Texas branch said they don't know how many confirmed cases there are in the area yet because the matter is being handled at the national level.
Local Boy Scouts spokesman Charles Mead said it was "absolutely heartbreaking" anyone would use the Boy Scouts to take advantage of a child, and that the branch has implemented anti-abuse measures.
"Those processes have been critical in making sure our program becomes an inhospitable place for anyone who wants to hurt a child," Mead said.
Past figures make clear that abuse has been a problem in the region.
Last year the Capitol Area Council, the local branch covering 15 counties in Central Texas, released the names of 23 volunteers accused of sexual assault in the area, dating back to the 1960s.
Those volunteers have all had their membership revoked or denied, Mead told the Austin-American Statesman last year. The latest recorded incident in Central Texas occurred in 2014, when a seasonal camp staff employee placed a camera in a camp staff shower. The employee had no previous criminal record.
Other sources detail allegations in the Austin area. Nine allegations related to sexual abuse in the Austin area are detailed in a 2012 database compiled by the Los Angeles Times, which drew from three separate lists of Boy Scout files. Documents are available for many of those allegations.
Safety measures taken by the Capitol Area Council and other branches in recent decades include a mandatory training that adults are required to take upon joining and renew every two years; anti-abuse material at the beginning of every rank handbook, and a policy called "two deep leadership" that prohibits isolated one-on-one time between an adult and child they are not the parent of.
Advocacy groups and lawyers for abuse victims say the total number of victims nationwide may never be known.
Those who filed claims for the bankruptcy case before Monday's deadline were required to submit a detailed account of the abuse, how it affected them, and detail their abuser and how they were related to the Boy Scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in February, as the organization faced mounting legal costs in the face of assault claims. The organization said it would use the Chapter 11 process to set up a victims relief fund. The bankruptcy does not extend to local branches like the Capitol Area Council.
The Boy Scouts of America released a statement Sunday that the organization is "devastated by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in Scouting and moved by the bravery of those who came forward."
"We intentionally developed an open, accessible process to reach survivors and help them take an essential step toward receiving compensation," the organization said. "The response we have seen from survivors has been gut wrenching. We are deeply sorry."
The court will decide what happens to the organization's assets, land, and fine art, which total over $1 billion in value.
Giga Texas, the massive Tesla factory in southeast Travis County is getting even bigger.
The company filed with the city of Austin this week to expand its headquarters with a new 500,000-square-foot building. The permit application notes “GA 2 and 3 expansion,” which indicates the company will make two general assembly lines in the building.
More details about the plans for the building are unclear. The gigafactory has been focused on Model Y production since it opened in April, but the company is also aiming for Cybertruck production to kick off in mid-2023.
While there is room for expansion on the 3.3 square miles of land Tesla has, this move comes after CEO Elon Musk’s recent comments about the state of the economy and its impact on Tesla.
In a May interview with Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, Musk said the gigafactories in Berlin and Austin are “gigantic money furnaces” and said Giga Texas had manufactured only a small number of cars.
And in June, Musk sent a company wide email saying Tesla will be reducing salaried headcount by 10%, then later tweeted salaried headcount should be fairly flat.
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