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Austin-area Boy Scouts likely connected to national sexual abuse claims
(Shutterstock)

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.

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A big announcement from Austonia

Howdy, and happy holidays.

I have some big news for you.

Austonia is now part of 6AM City, a fast-growing network of hyper-local newsletters across the country.

I’m proud to be telling you this, because 6AM City’s mission is very much like Austonia’s — a daily morning update on events, things-to-do and news, with an underlying mission of community building in the cities they serve.

If you’re not already subscribed, 6AM City’s Austin newsletter is called ATXtoday. One of its city editors is Laura Figi, who you’ll remember for her previous great work on Austonia’s newsletter.

I’ve been reading ATXtoday every day since it launched last year.

Starting this week, you’ll receive ATXtoday every morning and I’m confident it will become part of your daily wake up routine. Be sure to add hello@theatxtoday.com to your contact list (how to do that here).

Meantime let me thank you for your readership and support of Austonia, and convey my wishes for a great holiday season for you and those close to you.


Thank you,

Mark Dewey

Austonia CEO

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.