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Scout leader may have abused boys before coming to First Baptist
Plaintiffs claim Boy Scouts file would shed light on former Gainesville scoutmasters behavior
Fleming Weaver

Court documents show the Boy Scouts of America have since learned of sexual abuse allegations against a Gainesville scoutmaster possibly occurring “in other troops from a time period prior to his appointment” at First Baptist Church on Green Street.

Robert William Lawson III filed a lawsuit in March 2016 in Cobb County Superior Court alleging he was raped by Royal Fleming Weaver Jr., who formerly led Troop 26 at First Baptist Church of Gainesville.

Lawson’s allegation surrounded a 1985 scouting event at Camp Rainey Mountain. His lawsuit alleges negligence and a failure to provide adequate security.

Weaver was previously investigated in Hall County relating to sexual abuse allegations during his time as scoutmaster in the 1970s.

A criminal investigation in the Gainesville case started in January 1994, when a 38-year-old man told authorities he was molested as a child involved with the Boy Scouts in the 1970s, according to an investigative file obtained by The Times.

Lydia Sartain, who was district attorney at the time, wrote that the allegations were “barred by the statute of limitations,” and she closed the case.

Weaver, the Boy Scouts of America, the estate of Gene Bobo, Steven Brown, the Northeast Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the church were named in the lawsuit.

Brown was a former pastor; Bobo was an executive at the Northeast Georgia Council.

None of the attorneys for the defendants listed in the lawsuit responded to a request for comment Thursday from The Times.

In a request sent by Lawson’s attorneys, the plaintiff asked the Boy Scouts to “admit or deny that prior to his appointment as Troop 26 scout leader, Weaver had been accused of sexually abusing scouts in other troops for which he volunteered, including troops in Alabama and Gainesville, Georgia.”

In response, the Boy Scouts claimed no prior knowledge of the incidents, saying the question “improperly seeks an admission to facts only known to BSA through after acquired knowledge.”

“Subject to and without waiving objections, BSA admits 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,” according to court documents.

In a motion to compel discovery responses, Lawson and his attorneys are seeking Weaver’s Ineligible Volunteer File, which they claim contains “information that goes to the very heart of Plaintiff’s claims.” The file is a Boy Scouts document concerning allegations of inappropriate conduct.

“We don’t know the substance of those allegations or the extent or who the victims were or which troops it would have been associated with, but that is what we’re seeking,” Lawson’s attorney Natalie Woodward said. “They have refused to provide it to us without us entering into a confidentiality agreement, which we have refused to enter into.”

The confidentiality agreement stipulated no notes or copies of the documents would be allowed, and the file could not be shared with parties outside of the case.

First Baptist Church’s attorneys said in previous responses the complaint is “inflammatory and appears to have been carefully framed to garner media attention.”

The defendants’ responses to the lawsuit claimed the accusations by Lawson “are time-barred by the statute of limitations.”

“Not one of plaintiff’s charges against Mr. Weaver — battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress or fraud — appears in either list of defined criminal acts constituting ‘childhood sexual abuse,’” according to court filings.

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