The Boy Scouts of America has filed for bankruptcy protection in a move that the group says will allow it to build a compensation fund for sex abuse victims.
The move follows a number of lawsuits filed against the organisation over claims of sexual abuse, alleging it failed to prevent hundreds of cases.
As a result of the move, all civil lawsuits against it are put on hold.
The group is struggling with declining membership as well as abuse claims.
“The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologises to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” chief executive Roger Mosby said in a statement.
Court papers filed in Delaware listed liabilities of up to $1bn (£768m) and assets of as much as $10bn, reports say.
The group said it was setting up a trust fund to compensate victims.
“While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process – with the proposed trust structure – will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA’s important mission,” Mr Mosby said in a statement.
The bankruptcy, filed in Delaware, will allow the organisation to bring all of the lawsuits into one court and try to negotiate a settlement, rather than using its funds to fight each case in court, reports say.
Founded in 1910, BSA is one of the largest non-profit youth organisations in the US, with more than two million members. The group has faced numerous sex abuse lawsuits over the decades.
Other organisations, including the Catholic Church and USA Gymnastics, have also sought bankruptcy protection in recent years in the face of sexual abuse lawsuits, the New York Times reports.
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