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Boy Scouts of America's bankruptcy filing is "an admission of guilt," alleged victim says

Ex-Boy Scout claims he, brother were abused
Ex-Boy Scout claims he, brother were abused 03:47

The Boy Scouts of America's bankruptcy filing is "an admission of guilt," said one of the thousands of former Scouts who were allegedly sexually abused by leaders. Ralph Morse, now 67, said he and his brother were molested by their Boy Scout leader in upstate New York and that his brother died of alcoholism "because of the abuse." Morse was 11 years old at the time of the alleged abuse.

"By filing bankruptcy, you're admitting that, in all probability, you're going to be liable for these victims, these documented victims, and it's going to cost you a great deal of money," Morse told CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett.

Boy Scouts of America, which has about 2.2 million youth members and 800,000 volunteers, filed for federal bankruptcy protection Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, to prepare for a potential avalanche of settlements. Nearly 8,000 Boy Scout leaders have been accused of sex abuse.

Morse said when he closes his eyes, the memories of the alleged abuse are still there. "It'll never go away," he said.

He recalled "terrifying" car rides with his Scout leader John Brown, who he described as "an extremely large man," estimating he was 6'3" and 260 pounds.  

"He always put three of us in the front seat of a car, for pizza and soda, and back those days, the stick shift is on the column, so when you're shifting gears … his hand would drop into your lap," he said. "Now this guy's hand was as big as my head, so what am I supposed to do, jump out of the car? Scream? Run? I mean, it was terrifying."

The alleged abuse, which Morse never reported, prompted both him and his older brother, Harvey, to drink. For Harvey, the drinking led to his death, Morse said.

"I ended up dropping out of high school. I ended up going down a spiral in a dark place for 25 years," he said. "My brother didn't make it. He died at a relatively young age from alcoholism because of the abuse." 

In a statement, the Boy Scouts of America told CBS News they "barred" Brown from the organization when they learned about his actions from law enforcement. They also pointed to a "multi-layered process of safeguards" including a ban on "one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children."

Morse claims his abuse ended when he stopped showing up to the Boy Scouts, but he believes Brown continued to molest other kids for years. 

Brown, who died in 1997, was arrested in the mid-80s and pleaded guilty to assaulting a minor, according to a public record.

In an email sent out to members after filing for bankruptcy, Boy Scout leaders said scouting programs will continue, but they plan to use the Chapter 11 filing to restructure and compensate victims. The organization also acknowledged systematic failures in protecting their members from abuse while pointing out prevention measures it claims have dramatically reduced those cases in recent years. 

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