ATHENS, Ga. - A newly-filed lawsuit accuses Athens churches and the Boy Scouts organization of working together to conceal sex abuse at the hands of a respected troop leader.
The case mirrors other suits filed against the Boy Scouts organization, as the state’s extended statute of limitations deadline nears.
Filed in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court last week, the suit lists defendants as the Boy Scouts of America, the Northeast Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts, Green Acres Baptist Church, Beech Haven Baptist Church and the Estate of Ernest Boland. The churches sponsored troops.
A set of records known as the perversion files was released by the Boy Scouts via court order in 2012. It documents history of well-known sexual abuse at the hands of Boland from the 60s to the 80s. There were at least a dozen victims detailed in the files, but no one reported the abuse.
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Boland died in 2013, shortly after the records release.
Darren Penn, an Atlanta attorney, represents two plaintiffs in the new lawsuit. They were both 12 years old during the onset of the alleged abuse in the late 60s to 70s. One victim says Boland molested him over one summer. The other says it went on for five years.
“It was well-known. It was well-documented,” Penn said. “Even in the end when they asked for his resignation and said ‘You can’t ever be a Scout leader again, they still didn’t report it.”
The Plaintiff’s allegations are similar to those of Robb Lawson who sat down with Channel 2’s Nicole Carr last month. He and several others are suing the same Boy Scouts Council and Gainesville churches.
They allege sex abuse at the hands of Flemming Weaver, one of Boland’s mentees.
“He has a disease,” Lawson told Carr. “He has a bad disease.”
RESPONSE FROM THE BOYS SCOUTS
“The BSA is outraged there have been times when Scouts were abused and we sincerely apologize to victims and their families. Nothing is more important than the safety of our youth members.
“The BSA maintains a database system to prevent individuals from re-registering in Scouting who were removed because they do not meet the BSA’s standards because of known or suspected abuse or other misconduct either inside or outside the organization. As we have shared in the past, it is a policy of the BSA to promptly report to law enforcement any allegation or suspicion of abuse. In addition, the BSA voluntarily reported all allegations of abuse that predated our mandatory reporting policy.
“In the more than 40 years since these alleged actions occurred, we have continued to strengthen our efforts to protect youth through policies and procedures to serve as barriers to abuse. These include a thorough screening process, criminal background checks, requiring two or more adult leaders be present with youth, and the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse.
“The BSA offers assistance with counseling to any Scout, former Scout, or the family member of any Scout who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting. The BSA has a toll-free help line (855-295-1531) and email contact address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for these sensitive matters.”
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