UTAH (ABC4) – The Boy Scouts of America organization is going through bankruptcy as it faces lawsuits from more than 80,000 former scouts who say they were sexually abused by scout leaders.
Recently, the judge presiding over the bankruptcy case released an opinion approving many settlement offers while disapproving an offer of $250 million from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
One former scout spoke to ABC4 about the abuse he said he endured as a small boy and explained why he believes the offer from the Church needs to be reevaluated.
“I’ve come this far. I’m not bowing out now,” Anthony Mandich told ABC4. Mandich is in his 50s and currently lives in California. He is one of 80,000 former boy scouts who have come forward with claims of sexual abuse at the hands of scout leaders.
“I feel like, my whole life, it’s been like I’ve never lived up to my potential because I kind of feel like I don’t deserve to live up to my potential,” Mandich stated. He explained that recently his mother gave him all the school records and report cards she had saved over the years. He said he had nothing but good marks until around the age of 12. From then on, he said, it was nothing but bad marks. He told ABC4 that after reflecting on those documents, he realized that his behavior in school and at home changed drastically after the abuse began.
For more than 40 years, he’s had to live with the belief that he wasn’t good enough to live up to his potential. He felt this way because he’d been keeping a secret.
“In my experience, growing up, you don’t talk about things like that,” he stated. “Like, I would get beat up.”
Mandich said he had a friend who was in cub scouts when he was around the age of 10. It sounded fun so he decided to join. He told ABC4 that shortly after joining cub scouts, his leader (who Mandich said was a member of the LDS church) began sexually abusing him. He said it didn’t take long for him to quit going to cub scouts. When he was old enough, he joined scouts. However, he said the abuse soon began there as well.
“We’ve been working on boy scout cases and cases involving the Catholic church and the Mormon church for almost 20 years,” Jason P. Amala stated. He is an attorney and partner at the Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala firm in Seattle, Washington.
When the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in February 2020, he jumped on the case. He now represents more than 1,000 former scouts who say they were abused during their time in BSA. They are spread out across the country. One of his clients is Anthony Mandich.
Last week, Judge Laurie Silverstein, who is presiding over the BSA bankruptcy case, released an opinion on the many different settlement offers.
She found the liability for all of the abuse claims against BSA ranges from about $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion. In her opinion, she approves (not a formal or final decision) of offers that total over $2 billion. However, she also mentioned offers to which she doesn’t agree.
One of those was the $250 million offer from the LDS church. “That’s a really good result of her decision,” Amala stated. “We have more work to do, but we’re going to get there.”
Amala explained that the former scouts are allowed to vote for or against proposed settlement offers (from BSA and other partners). Mandich was one of many not happy with the offer from the Church. Amala explained that this opinion from the judge, and votes from the claimants, mean they can return to the negotiating table. However, he said the ball is in the Church’s court.
“The Church wouldn’t tell us,” Amala stated. “The Church, in the bankruptcy filings, said they thought there were maybe 300 claims out of 80,000. The boy scouts said they thought it was over 7,000.”
He continued: “I don’t know of any client that if I came in and said, ‘Hey, there’s an offer on the table but I’m not going to tell you how many people are sharing in it.’ How does someone vote in favor of that? How do you support that?”
Mandich told ABC4 he is in it for the long haul. “I want it to be over, but I want it to be fair.”
ABC4 reached out to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding the judge’s recent opinion on the settlement plan. The Church isn’t releasing a statement at this time.