Nearly 100,000 victims of sexual abuse that took place in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) had come forward by Monday evening, the deadline to receive compensation from the organization, a lawyer for the victims told AFP.
The 88,500 count exceeds initial projections from lawyers across the nation who have been signing up clients since the organization filed for bankruptcy.
In response to the claims, a spokesperson for Boys Scouts of America said that the organization was "devastated by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in scouting and moved by the bravery of those who have come forward".
'We are heartbroken that we can not undo their pain, ' the spokesperson added.
The bankruptcy court proceedings will lead to the creation of a compensation fund to pay out settlements to abuse survivors whose claims are upheld. The organization is expected to contribute a substantial portion of its assets, which include financial investments and real estate.
The Boy Scouts said it "intentionally developed an open, accessible process to reach survivors and help them take an essential step toward receiving compensation". "We are deeply sorry".
Claims have accelerated in recent weeks as those who failed to file before the deadline would be barred from filing a suit against the Boy Scouts of America in the future.
A lawyer for the alleged victims called it the biggest sexual abuse scandal in the history of the United States. He said that number doubled after the Boy Scouts launched an advertising campaign in August to notify victims that they had until Monday to seek compensation.
"The number of claims is mind-boggling", Mones said, noting that many abuse victims likely have not come forward. "Now, the question is whether they can make good on their commitment".
Most of the pending sex-abuse claims date to the 1960s, '70s and '80s, before the Boy Scouts adopted criminal background checks, abuse-prevention training for all staff and volunteers, and a rule that two or more adult leaders must be present during activities.
Another contentious issue is the extent to which the Boy Scouts' roughly 260 local councils will contribute to the fund.
'Any settlement must involve not only BSA but also the local councils and insurance companies, ' said Seattle-based attorney Mike Pfau, whose team represents more than 630 potential claimants.
Lawyer Paul Mones, who won the $19.9 million sex abuse verdict against the Boy Scouts in OR in 2010 which led to the organization's eventual declaration of bankruptcy, said painstaking work lies ahead to determine which insurers were responsible for coverage of the national organization and the local councils over the decades in which abuse occurred. "It's chilling in terms of the amount of horror that was experienced".
"The claims, which lawyers said far eclipsed the number of abuse accusations filed in Catholic Church cases, continued to mount ahead of a Monday deadline established in bankruptcy court in DE, where the Boy Scouts had sought refuge this year in a bid to survive the demands for damages".