An amended lawsuit complaint alleging sexual assault by a former Gainesville scoutmaster claims the Boy Scouts of America circulated a memo to councils “detailing its policy of keeping Ineligible Volunteer files” confidential.
“The internal practices of BSA made it impossible for the general public to learn of the crimes of adult volunteers,” according to the lawsuit.
Robert William Lawson III was the first to bring a case against Royal Fleming 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.
The suit was filed against Weaver, the church, former pastor Steven Brown, the Boy Scouts, the Northeast Georgia Council and the estate of Gene Bobo, who served in council leadership.
“By 1965, BSA and the Council knew that Scouting posed an unreasonably high risk to children because of the frequency of Scouts who had been sexually abused by adult volunteers,” according to the lawsuit.
It goes on to claim scouts and parents were not told if a volunteer was on probation or in the Ineligible Volunteer files.
“In 1971, BSA circulated a memo to councils detailing its policy of keeping Ineligible Volunteer files confidential,” according to the lawsuit. “Local councils were instructed, and agreed, to send Ineligible Volunteer File materials to BSA’s national office, rather than keeping such records at the local offices.”
According to Lawson’s lawsuit, a parent reported in 1981 to Brown “that his son had been sexually assaulted by Weaver.”
“By Weaver’s own admission, he sexually abused at least six children who were members of Troop 26 between 1969 and 1981,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claimed Brown, Bobo and Weaver “conspired to conceal” Weaver’s actions from law enforcement and the general public.
“Brown, Bobo and Weaver devised a plan whereby Weaver would step down as Scout Leader of Troop 26 but would continue to participate in Scouting in other capacities,” according to the lawsuit.
Attorneys for Brown, Weaver and the church did not return requests for comment Friday.
The Boy Scouts’ representative said the organization could not comment on ongoing litigation.
“This individual’s behavior is abhorrent and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands. We are 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 Boy Scouts statement reads in part. “In the many years since these alleged actions occurred, we have continued to strengthen our efforts to protect youth, including training volunteers and staff on how to identify and report incidents of abuse and requiring prompt mandatory reporting of any suspicion or allegation to authorities.”
The lawsuit alleges child sexual abuse, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, failure to provide adequate security and violating the racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations statute among other allegations.