A lawsuit and Boy Scouts of America documents show a former Gainesville scoutmaster continued working with the organization for more than a decade after confessing to church and scout leaders about sexually abusing scouts.
Royal Fleming Weaver Jr. is the subject of a lawsuit filed in Cobb County Superior Court by Robert William Lawson III. Lawson claimed he was raped by Weaver during an Order of the Arrow scouting event in 1985.
Weaver was the former Gainesville scoutmaster of Troop 26, based at First Baptist Church of Gainesville. Lawson filed an amended complaint Thursday which includes more documentation from the Boy Scouts of America.
In addition to the Boy Scouts, Weaver and the church, the lawsuit names former First Baptist pastor Steven Brown, the Northeast Georgia Council and the estate of Gene Bobo, who served in council leadership.
In earlier court filings, the Boy Scouts of America stated “it has since acquired knowledge that Weaver had been accused of sexually abusing scouts in other troops from a time period prior to his appointment as a Troop 26 Scout Leader.’’
“In 1995 we learned a local volunteer had been made aware of allegations of abuse in 1981. However, all information gathered to date indicates neither the local council nor the BSA were ever notified of these allegations. Upon learning of reports of abuse in 1995, we took immediate action to prohibit the abuser from any future participation in Scouting,” the Boy Scouts said in a statement emailed to The Times on Wednesday.
“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.”
None of the attorneys for the listed defendants returned a request for comment Tuesday.
A Hall County Sheriff’s Office investigation was launched in 1994 after a man reported being molested during his time in the Boy Scouts.
Michael H. Crawford of the Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office wrote to the Northeast Georgia Council in February 1995 about the law enforcement file regarding Weaver.
“As a father, a Scoutmaster and a former Boy Scout, I almost cried when I read the file and thought what it must have been like for those poor boys during that period of time. The one person, besides his parents, that a boy should be able to trust is his scoutmaster,” Crawford wrote.
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.
“By 1981, Gene Bobo and Steven Brown had actual knowledge that defendant Weaver had sexually abused scouts in Troop 26 because he confessed this fact to them,” according to the lawsuit.-
The lawsuit alleges Brown, Bobo and Weaver concealed the sexual abuse by “creating a false explanation for the reason behind his resignation from Troop 26” by telling members he was going to “spend more time with his family.”
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 lawsuit now alleges violations of the Georgia Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
“Due to defendants’ RICO violations, (Lawson) and thousands like him were fraudulently induced to join the Boy Scouts of America and participate in activities known to be unsafe which ultimately led to the sexual abuse of children,” according to the lawsuit.
In 1994, Bobo was interviewed by Hall County Sheriff’s Office investigators regarding the sexual abuse allegations.
“Mr. Bobo stated there was a meeting with Fleming Weaver concerning the allegations and it was decided that nothing would be said about the incident because of Fleming Weaver’s wife and daughter,” according to the investigator’s interview summary. “As a result of the meeting, Mr. Bobo and Dr. Steve Brown told Fleming Weaver he could not be involved with the Boy Scouts anymore.”
The summary also said Weaver “may have been around these older Boy Scouts recently at the Rainy Mountain State Park” for Order of the Arrow events, where Lawson claims he was assaulted.
In 1995, Weaver was placed on the Ineligible Volunteer File for the Boy Scouts.
In March that year, Weaver said his physician advised him to “curtail most of my activities” because of a health problem and resigned membership on the National Committee of Order of the Arrow.
When responding to the lawsuit last year, the defendants claimed the case should be dismissed because the case was filed past the statute of limitations.
First Baptist Church called the complaint “inflammatory and appears to have been carefully framed to garner media attention.”