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Boy Scouts file for bankruptcy due to sex-abuse lawsuitsBarraged by hundreds of sex-abuse lawsuits, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday in hopes of working out a potentially mammoth victim compensation plan that will allow the hallowed, 110-year-old organization to carry on. The Chapter 11 filing in federal bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware, sets in motion what could be one of the biggest, most complex bankruptcies ever seen. Scores of lawyers are seeking settlements on behalf of several thousand men who say they were molested as scouts by scoutmasters or other leaders decades ago but are only now eligible to sue because of recent changes in their states’ statute-of-limitations laws. By going to bankruptcy court, the Scouts can put those lawsuits on hold for now. But ultimately they could be forced to sell off some of their vast property holdings, including campgrounds and hiking trails, to raise money for a compensation trust fund that could surpass a billion dollars. The bankruptcy petition listed the Boy Scouts' assets as between $1 billion and $10 billion, and its liabilities at $500 million to $1 billion. “Scouting programs will continue throughout this process and for many years to come," the Boy Scouts said in a statement. ”Local councils are not filing for bankruptcy because they are legally separate and distinct organizations." The Boy Scouts are just the latest major American institution to face a heavy price over sexual abuse. Roman Catholic dioceses across the country and schools such as Penn State and Michigan State have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years. The bankruptcy represents a painful turn for an organization that has been a pillar of American civic life for generations and a training ground for future leaders. Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout has long been a proud accomplishment that politicians, business leaders, astronauts and others put on their resumes and in their official biographies. The Boy Scouts’ finances have been strained in recent years by declining membership and sex-abuse settlements. The number of youths taking part in scouting has dropped below 2 million, down from more than 4 million in peak years of the 1970s. The organization has tried to counter the decline by admitting girls, but its membership rolls took a big hit Jan. 1 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — for decades a major sponsor of Boy Scout units — cut ties and withdrew more than 400,000 scouts in favor of programs of its own. The financial outlook had worsened last year after New York, Arizona, New Jersey and California passed laws making it easier for victims of long-ago abuse to file claims. Teams of lawyers across the U.S. have been signing up clients by the hundreds to sue the Boy Scouts. Most of the newly surfacing cases date to the 1960s, '70s and '80s; the organization says there were only five known abuse victims in 2018. The Boy Scouts credit the change to an array of prevention policies adopted since the mid-1980s, including mandatory criminal background checks and abuse-prevention training for all staff and volunteers, and a rule that two or more adult leaders be present during all activities. In many ways, the crisis parallels the one facing the Catholic Church in the U.S. Both institutions boast of major progress over recent decades in combating abuse. whether by priests or scout leaders, but both face many lawsuits alleging negligence and cover-ups, mostly decades ago. “We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” said Roger Mosby, the BSA's president and CEO. “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.” The BSA said it is encouraging all victims to come forward to file a claim in the case. A deadline for filing claims has not yet been set by the bankruptcy court, but the BSA said that would likely happen later this year. Among other matters to be addressed in bankruptcy court: the fate of the Boy Scouts’ assets; the extent to which the organization’s insurance will help cover compensation; and whether assets of the Scouts’ 261 local councils will be added to the fund. “There are a lot of very angry, resentful men out there who will not allow the Boy Scouts to get away without saying what all their assets are,” said lawyer Paul Mones, who represents numerous clients suing the BSA. “They want no stone unturned.” Amid the crush of lawsuits, the Scouts recently mortgaged the major properties owned by the national leadership, including the headquarters in Irving, Texas, and the 140,000-acre Philmont Ranch in New Mexico, to help secure a line of credit. Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts have kept confidential files since the 1920s listing staff and volunteers implicated in sexual abuse, for the avowed purpose of keeping predators away from youth. According to a court deposition, the files as of January listed 7,819 suspected abusers and 12,254 victims. Until last spring, the organization had insisted it never knowingly allowed a predator to work with youths. But in May, The <a href="" target="&mdash;blank">Associated Press reported</a> that attorneys for abuse victims had identified multiple cases in which known predators were allowed to return to leadership posts. The next day, Boy Scouts chief executive Mike Surbaugh wrote to a congressional committee, acknowledging the group's previous claim was untrue. James Kretschmer of Houston, among the many men suing for alleged abuse, says he was molested by a Scout leader over several months in the mid-1970s in the Spokane, Washington, area. Regarding the bankruptcy, he said, “It is a shame because at its core and what it was supposed to be, the Boy Scouts is a beautiful organization.” “But you know, anything can be corrupted,” he added. “And if they're not going to protect the people that they've entrusted with the children, then shut it down and move on.” Ahead of the Chapter 11 filing, lawyers said that because of the organization’s 50-state presence, as well as its ties to churches and civic groups that sponsor scout troops, a bankruptcy by the Boy Scouts would be unprecedented in its complexity. It would be national in scope, unlike the various Catholic Church bankruptcy cases, which have unfolded diocese by diocese. "A Boy Scout bankruptcy would be bigger in scale than any other child abuse bankruptcy we’ve ever seen," said Seattle-based attorney Mike Pfau, whose firm is representing scores of men nationwide alleging they were abused as Boy Scouts. ——— Associated Press video journalist John Mone in Houston contributed.
Teachers weigh in on how technology helps, hurts in the classroomWETHERSFIELD, CT (WFSB) -- All week, Channel 3 is featuring the results of a one-of-a-kind survey that was sent out to public school teachers across the state. In a partnership with two of the state’s teacher unions, the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut, and Connecticut Education Association (CEA), 1,500 teachers responded to the survey, which was sent to 50,000. One of the first topics covered was cellphones. They’re being brought into schools, which can be a major distraction for learning. Plus, teachers weighing in on how the use of technology is helping and hurting students. Students at Silas Deane Middle School in Wethersfield said owning a cellphone is very much the norm. However, their school has a cellphone policy. “Usually in the announcement, the principal will say put the cell phone away and keep it in your locker,” said seventh grader Sophia Cirinna. “We aren’t allowed to have them in the classroom, it’s a cell phone policy,” said Jacob Rossitto, also a seventh grade student. However, students say some of their peers don’t listen to that policy. When they don’t listen, the students say it becomes a distraction, and for the teachers, it’s no different. In fact, 51 percent of teachers responding to the survey said cellphones aren't allowed in class, and 38 percent said it's is a major distraction that impacts teaching and learning. Teachers said "smartphones in school are the worst thing to ever happen to student,” and "students interact all day long with their phones. Parents call and message their kids throughout the day." Another said "students in our school basically ignore the 'no phones' rule especially in the hallways, bathrooms and cafe. They use the phones to coordinate fights pretty much on a daily basis. Phones are a huge issue in our school!" Kate Dias, a math teacher at Manchester High School, said there is no question that cellphones are a distraction. “There is no question if something goes on, it can throw a kid off all day, and follows them via Instagram, and Snapchat and they are constantly messaging,” Dias said. If there’s not a cellphone policy at the school, some teachers said they have to get creative. “I give them the 1,2,3 warning. I rarely have an issue with it, believe it or not. Most kids are very respectful. Often times, they'll forget. Kids are walking in the hallways with their phones, texting and they'll put it on their desk and I have to go, ‘put them away, just put them away’,” Dias said. “You're seeing teachers, parents as well who send their kids to school with smartphones. They would be in favor of, let's put the phones in a charging station, basket so there can be uninterrupted learning time and that's really what our students need today,” said Don Williams, executive director of CEA. Technology can be a hurtful or helpful tool when it comes to learning in the classroom. “There are a lot of apps now that can help students with reading. They light up the sight words during the story so the students not only hear the story, but they can interact with the story so they're able to use all modalities of learning so that way they can understand what they are learning,” said Lisa Cordova, who’s in her 30th year of teaching, and teaches kindergarten at the Glastonbury-East Hartford Magnet school. At her school, kindergarten students have access to iPads and computers. In older grades, students have access to Chromebooks. For almost 61 percent of teachers taking the survey, they felt technology being used in the classroom is both a benefit and a curse. “They come in ready to use it. They know how to use it, which is amazing to me,” said Amy Farrior, referring to her 5-year-old students at Marlborough Elementary School. She said technology can be a challenge at times. “Kindergartners aren't always quick to solve their problems on technology, and as we know, technology doesn't go smoothly all the time so it does take time out of what I’m doing to stop and help a student re-log on, or if the internet or wireless disconnects, to help them solve their problems,” Farrior said. In the survey, other teachers said "students are not as savvy with technology has people think. They use it primarily for social media but when asked to use it purposefully, they struggle,” and “I believe that elementary, particularly primary grades, is just too young for the amount of screen time they are being exposed to at school." Another said "young children today need to learn how to interact with humans in a kind and cooperative way before they interact with devices." “I think there is a fine line between using just enough technology and too much. It's not a babysitter for the classroom. They need to be engaged, they need to be problem solving and not just looking at a screen,” Cordova said. See more results from the Teachers Survey <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.
Storm to start out as wintry mix Tuesday morningHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- A storm system headed our way could start off as a wintry mix with some snow Tuesday morning. By late morning, a wintry mix of snow, sleet, and rain will develop between 9 a.m. and noon. “That means we should be in good shape for the morning commute,” Chief Meteorologist Bruce DePrest said. Any frozen precipitation will change to all rain by the afternoon, and areas of fog will develop. Track the precipitation with our Interactive Radar <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. During the day on Tuesday, temperatures should reach the 40s across the southern part of the state, but struggle reaching 40 degrees in northern CT. “Rain, drizzle, and fog will linger into early tomorrow night, then the clouds will clear away after midnight as a northwesterly flow of drier air develops on the heels of a cold front,” DePrest said. Lows will be in the 30s. After Tuesday, the weather pattern is pretty quiet. Wednesday will be mostly sunny, windy and chilly. Highs will reach the 30s, but fall as the day goes on. Winds could gust over 30mph. It’ll be colder Wednesday night, with lows in the upper teens. However, the wind will slowly subside. “The actual air temperature will drop into the teens to near 20 by dawn Thursday,” DePrest said. Thursday will be the coldest day of the week, as temperatures struggle to reach 30 degrees. “The wind won’t be a strong as it will be on Wednesday, but there will be enough of a wind to keep wind chills in the single digits and teens,” DePrest said. It’ll be a cold start to Friday, but temperatures will be in the mid to upper 30s with abundant sunshine. Milder weather comes for Saturday and Sunday, with temperatures both days in the upper 40s to near 50 degrees. Read the full Technical Discussion <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. For weather updates on smartphones and tablets, text "WFSB" to 23765 to download the Channel 3 app.
Doctors explain how folks can protect themselves from illnesses while travelingWINDSOR LOCKS, CT (WFSB) – The flu has killed 40 people in Connecticut this year and millions are closely watching the impact of coronavirus. This all come during a busy travel week in the state, where many families are heading out or returning from February break. Travelers at Bradley fear the worst when thinking about getting in an enclosed space and being there for hours. Julie Clifford and her daughter Cody are spending their February break in the warmth at Disney, but there’s no shortage of worry when they board the plane. “I thought about wearing masks,” Clifford said. Flu and coronavirus have dominated the headlines, especially in Connecticut where there have been 40 flu-related deaths. It’s changed the way things look at Bradley. Tao Jiang wore a mask in the airport and on the plane. “There’s a lot of people here, so I’m trying to protect myself,” Jiang said. To find out if flying during flu season is riskier than other months, Channel 3 visited the Hospital of Central Connecticut where Dr. Virginia Bieluch says who you’re seated near can determine a lot. “If you’re sitting next to somebody who has a respiratory infection or they’re a row in front of you or behind you, you do have some risk of getting infected,” said Dr. Bieluch, Chief of Infectious Diseases. The germ radius differs by infection. “For viruses, it’s thought to be one or two seats or rows,” Dr. Bieluch said. Many are worries about the circulated air. Bieluch says germs aren’t circulating as rapidly as you might think because airplanes come equipped with high powered HEPA filters. “These are the same types of filters we use in parts of our hospital, which are meant to filter our 99 percent of bacteria and viruses,” Dr. Bieluch said. The filters can’t suck out what’s stuck on. That’s why Bieluch advises passengers to wipe down seats, trays, and magazine pockets, and don’t open the bathroom without protecting your hands. “It’s much harder to get the bacteria off those soft surfaces,” Dr. Bieluch said. As for masks, Dr. Bieluch say people don’t really need them because there are places where germs can still creep in. Dr. Bieluch says that HEPA filter is really what saves people. In fact, confined spaces that don’t have time, like buses, subways, and movie theaters likely have more germs.
NASCAR driver Ryan Newman in serious condition with non-life threatening injuries after fiery Daytona 500 crashRyan Newman, leading the final lap of NASCAR's Daytona 500, was involved in <a href="" target="_blank">a fiery crash Monday that saw his car spin</a> and go airborne, flipping several times. FOX television commentators said Newman was removed and taken directly to a local hospital. "Ryan Newman is being treated at Halifax Medical Center," NASCAR said in a statement on Twitter. "He is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening." The 42-year-old racer is in his 19th full season in the NASCAR Cup series, according to his profile on the <a href="" target="_blank">association's website.</a> He was the 2008 winner of the Daytona 500 and holds 18 Cup Series wins, according to the website. Following Thursday's Twin Duel Races, in which Newman finished third in his Koch Industries Ford, he said in a statement "the big one is on Sunday." Monday's race at Daytona International Speedway in Florida was postponed from Sunday because of inclement weather. "We had great execution by everybody at Ford to have a good, strong finish here," Newman said in <a href="" target="_blank">his statement</a> after Thursday's race. "I think we had the top four cars and it's something to look forward to for the 500." In a statement after Monday's crash, Ford tweeted, "Our thoughts are with @RyanJNewman and his family. We hope to hear good news soon. #NewmanStrong." Denny Hamlin was named winner Monday, marking his third career win at "the Great American Race," NASCAR's marquee event and first race of the NASCAR Cup season. This was the 62nd running of the race. The crash comes almost 19 years to the day <a href="" target="_blank">since seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr.</a> suffered a <a href="" target="_blank">fatal crash on the final lap</a> of the race, on February 18, 2001. In an interview with reporters after Monday's race, Hamlin called the accident the "worst-case scenario" in a race. "We're praying for the best. Ryan's ... a tough guy. We're hoping that he comes out of this good." Last week, Newman tweeted he would be separating from his wife, Krissie, after 16 years of marriage. "We will continue to jointly raise our girls, while remaining friends and continuing to work together supporting Rescue Ranch," <a href="" target="_blank">he wrote</a>, mentioning his animal welfare non-profit. "Thank you for the years of support and friendship. We ask that (our) daughters' privacy be respected at this time." CNN's Amanda Jackson contributed to this report.
Police arrest suspect in Hartford nightclub shootingHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - As church leaders, politicians and people living in the middle of gun violence in Hartford plead for it to stop, police released new details on Monday. Five people were shot over the weekend at the Majestic Lounge, a nightclub in the city's south end. One of the victims, a 28-year-old man, died. He's been identified as Marquis Treadwell, of Hartford. <a href="" target="_blank">RELATED: 5 shot, 1 dead at south end Hartford nightclub</a> The four other victims have not been identified, but range in ages from 19 to 34 years old. One of the victims, a woman, was shot nine times and is expected to recover. On Monday night, police announced an arrest in the deadly shooting. The suspect has been identified as 31-year-old Joshua Saez. He is charged with the murder of Treadwell, as well of the shooting of his female companion, and an unintended victim. Saez was also struck by gunfire during the incident. He was located in a crashed car shortly after the shooting on Maple Avenue and Franklin Avenue. He was charged with murder, criminal attempt of murder and several other charges. He is being held on a $1.75 million bond. A memorial of candles and a photo was seen outside the Franklin Avenue club following the shooting. Hartford police said there have been issues at the nightclub before, which was the reason officers were on watch outside and able to quickly respond. "There's been some challenges at that particular location," Hartford Police Lt. Paul Cicero said. Police responded after a person was shot on Oct. 4, followed by separate incidents, a stabbing and then shots fired, on Oct. 19. Now, Cicero said police will require Majestic Lounge to hire four officers for security. A city ordinance gives police this authority. The ordinance has been in place for years because "the city has experienced significant problems with security and illegal activity within and surrounding... Businesses open between the hours of 11:30 p.m. and 5 a.m." Police can require the officers for four weeks before another review. They must consider the nature of the incidents, including possible violence or whether people were injured. They can also look at a business’ history and cooperation from the owner. Rev. Henry Brown called for solutions over the weekend. "It seems like we all gather at funerals, we gather at nightclubs, but we don’t gather to stop violence and that’s frustrating," Brown said. One of the most recent items being proposed is an ammunition tax. The 35-percent excise tax would help fund community groups and school programs in urban areas where gun violence is prevalent. Pro-gun groups, like the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, believe something like that won't work as intended. "The proposed legislation will not prevent any criminal from illegally obtaining guns or ammunition that has intent to commit violent crimes," the CCDL told Channel 3. <a href="" target="_blank">RELATED: CT lawmaker proposes 35 percent sales tax on ammunition</a> Over the weekend, Mayor Luke Bronin said the weapons used in the shooting were illegal handguns. However, Hartford police clarified they believe the mayor meant that it is illegal to have a handgun inside the nightclub. Politicians offered comments and sympathies following the shooting. "Praying for a speedy recovery for those injured and I am thinking of the family of the victim," said Rep. John Larson. "We must end gun violence." On Monday, the owner of the lounge did not offer a comment. Mother's United Against Violence is planning a vigil for Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Person suffers serious injuries after being hit by a car in Rocky HillROCKY HILL, CT (WFSB) -- Part of New Britain Avenue in Rocky Hill is closed after a person was hit by a car. It happened a little before 5 p.m. on Monday, near Trinity Ridge. Police said the person suffered serious injuries and was brought to a local hospital. The driver of the car remained on the scene and is cooperating with police. New Britain Avenue, also known as Route 160, was closed between Catherine Drive and New Road, but has since reopened. Anyone with information is being asked to contact Rocky Hill Police. Stay with Eyewitness News as more information becomes available.
Fight to save museum and library fundingState libraries and mueseums are fighting for money.
Families spend Presidents' Day on the slopesFamilies headed to Powder Ridge in Middletown to have some fun outside on Presidents' Day.
UConn law students hear from those pushing to stop gun violenceHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- On Monday, UConn law students heard from those who are pushing to stop gun violence, and learning how to bring change. "Gun violence kills tens of thousands of people every year. In fact, 90 to 100 people every day,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal. He was one of four speakers on Monday who feel UConn law students can influence gun debate. "We are breaking the grip of the NRA (National Rifle Association) and the gun manufacturers who fund the NRA,” Blumenthal said on Monday. The National Rifle Association is powerful, but UConn law students may fight for change. They can vote, write laws, and organize and boycott businesses that support the NRA and other gun groups. “If it cost people to do business, and rewards people to do business, you can take the legs out of this industry pretty quick. It’s a small industry,” said Attorney Josh Koskoff. He took on what some said was impossible. He sued Remington and other gun companies for marketing the AR-r15 as a weapon of war. The Connecticut Supreme Court dealt a major blow to the firearms industry by clearing the way for a lawsuit. "The ER doctor literally slid down the wall and told us that Ethan was dead, and your world shatters,” said Kristin Song, whose 15-year-old son accidentally shot himself with a gun he thought wasn’t loaded. Connecticut lawmakers on both sides passed Ethan’s Law, which requires all guns to be secured, loaded and unloaded. She is confident that Congress will pass this. She’s also working with youth in urban cities that are traumatized by violence. "Yale New Haven Hospital is now pulling numbers together to show the impact on CT taxpayers, because when people come in with gunshots, they don't die. They have to have surgery and therapy,” Song said. A new Marist poll shows 77 percent of gun owners support universal background checks and 62 percent support emergency risk protection, which allows guns to be removed from those considered dangerous. Po Murray helped start the Newtown Action Alliance after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook. The shooter, Adam Lanza was her neighbor. They're pushing for change and say law students can vote, write laws and organize. "We were obviously in complete shock that the safest community in the world was a home of a mass shooting,” Murray said. The Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL), which represents gun owners, said they always want a seat at the table and be part of these discussions.