Iowa Governor Signs Measure Increasing Compensation For Boy Scouts Abuse Victims

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa men who were victims of child sexual molestation while they were in the Boy Scouts of America could get higher legal compensation under a measure lawmakers approved and the governor signed into law Friday.

The legislation, which retroactively waives the statute of limitations for victims filing a civil claim as part of the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy settlement, took effect immediately after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed it.

The Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020 as it faced hundreds of lawsuits filed by men alleging they had been sexually abused as children by their Scout leaders and volunteers. A $2.46 billion bankruptcy reorganization plan was approved in 2022, after more than 80,000 men filed claims nationwide.

A state’s statute of limitations could decrease the damages that victims receive, according to the fund's distribution procedures. Under the settlement terms, states had until Friday to extend their statutes of limitations.

“We are facing a clock that is ticking to ensure that they will not be financially penalized because their abuse occurred within the borders of our state,” Sen. Janet Petersen, a Democrat, said Wednesday.

Iowa law requires victims of child sexual abuse to file claims by age 19 or, if older, within four years of realizing a sustained injury was caused by the abuse. The new measure — which applies only to the case against the Boy Scouts of America — allows victims within the Scouts to seek legal action at any time.

It's unclear how many Iowa victims may now file new claims by aMay 31 deadline.