Three new lawsuits have been filed in Cobb County Superior Court by men claiming they were sexually abused by a former Gainesville scoutmaster.
Two of the cases were filed anonymously under a John Doe pseudonym and a third was by James Frank Lloyd, all of whom served as senior patrol leaders of Troop 26 under scoutmaster R. Fleming Weaver Jr.
Robert William Lawson III was the first to bring a case against Weaver in 2016. Lawson claimed he was raped by Weaver during an Order of the Arrow scouting event in 1985.
Weaver served as the scoutmaster for Troop 26 from 1969 to 1981. The troop was sponsored by First Baptist Church of Gainesville.
All three cases allege the plaintiffs were sexually abused by Weaver, and that when the church pastor at the time, Steven N. Brown, was informed of the incidents, they were not reported to police.
“Brown met with Gene Bobo, a Boy Scout leader and member of the church and along with Weaver conspired a plan to keep Weaver’s abuse hidden from law enforcement, scouts and the general public,” according to the lawsuit.
Weaver, Brown, Bobo, the church and the Boy Scouts have been named as defendants in the case.
Attorney Dennis Cathey, who is representing the church in a similar case, declined to comment.
Attorneys and representatives for Brown, Weaver, Bobo and the Boy Scouts did not return requests for comment.
According to the lawsuits, Lloyd and the other plaintiffs learned in 2017 “that Weaver had been accused of sexually abusing Scouts even before joining Troop 26 in 1969.”
“Defendants knew or should have known that Weaver posed a danger to Scouts based on the alleged crimes he committed before joining Troop 26,” according to the lawsuit.
Weaver admitted in a January 1995 interview with law enforcement that he had “sexually abused five victims during the time they were in his scout troop” between 1971 and 1981. The district attorney at the time, Lydia Sartain, said the statute of limitations on those acts had elapsed, preventing criminal charges.
“Weaver was interviewed by law enforcement on January 25, 1995 and admitted to sexually abusing Scouts, including Mr. Lloyd,” according to Lloyd’s lawsuit.
Weaver was named Northeast Council of Georgia president in 1983 and continued with the Boy Scouts until his resignation in 1995, according to court documents.
The suits’ claims include child sexual abuse, fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment; failure to provide adequate security; failure to warn; negligent retention; and violations of the Georgia Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
The claims were brought against Weaver before the “Hidden Predator Act” that expired July 1, which gave alleged sexual abuse victims the chance to file civil claims even after the age of 23.
The court ruled June 30 to deny Weaver’s dismissal motion, where his attorneys claimed the “Hidden Predator Act” was unconstitutional.
“It is a long-accepted tenet of constitutional analysis that a legislature may rationally distinguish between torts or crimes based upon when they occurred, for example applying different limitations periods to torts occurring at different times, and even applying longer limitation periods to older claims,” Superior Court Judge C. LaTain Kell ordered.
The judge, however, did dismiss some of the claims raised in the early complaints filed by Lawson as it pertained to the other defendants.
The claims in the original complaint included fraud, failure to provide adequate security and failure to adequately screen, among others.
Kell wrote that Lawson didn’t show evidence that the statute of limitations was paused “due to fraudulent concealment by the defendants.”
“The absence of any effort to identify his abuser and investigate a possible claim against (the Boy Scouts) and/or the (Northeast Georgia Council) is another reason that the statute of limitations cannot be tolled under the circumstances of the present case,” the judge wrote.
The judge has not addressed the claims in the third and fourth amended complaint, which include the racketeering claim among others.