The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in a U.S. federal court Tuesday in a move it says will allow it to compensate men who were abused as boys while taking part in its programs.
The group has faced a surge in lawsuits in recent years as multiple states enacted changes to laws allowing those victimized as kids to bring legal action later in life.
Several thousand men accuse scoutmasters and other leaders of molestation, with many of their cases dating back to the 1960s, '70s and '80s.
Paul Mones, a lawyer representing many people suing the group, said in a series of Tuesday tweets that the Boy Scouts deliberately concealed sexual abuse for decades and "made their decision to protect their reputation over the safety of innocent children."
It is not clear how large an eventual settlement could be if the Boy Scouts and victims are able to reach an agreement.
"The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting," President and Chief Executive Officer Roger Mosby said in a statement. "We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children."
The group says the bankruptcy filing involves only its national organization and not the individual chapters spread throughout the country that will continue carrying their meetings and activities.