The Boy Scouts have been working hard to clean up their organization since news of various sex abuse cases broke just a few years ago. Despite that fact, though, more victims continue to come forward, as happened in the Athens, GA, lawsuit. Friday, August 17, a fifth plaintiff joined the civil suit filed against one notorious Boy Scout leader and the organizations who helped cover up his behavior, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
For almost two decades, until 1977, the late Ernest Boland, served as a Scout leader in different church locations. Documents uncovered by reporters from the Boy Scouts found that Boland had victimized at least 12 boys over that period of time. He left the organization after that. The stories of those boys who came forward, however, were dismissed, and the organization worked to suppress their stories. The suit alleges the churches did the same.
Attorney Darren Penn represents the five victims in this case. He said his goal is to ensure all of the organizations involved are working to protect the kids inside the organization instead of the abusers.
The fifth plaintiff in the suit joined only after learning that so many people knew of the allegations against Boland and worked to cover them up. Until that point, he believed he was the only victim. The plaintiff, whose pseudonym is Tim Doe, has alleged Boland abused him for four years. The abuse began in 1968.
While many partnering groups, like churches, worked with Scout groups and leaders accused of behaviors, most allowed leaders to simply resign and move to another location where they continued the cycle of abuse. In this case, Boland was allowed to resign from Troop 2 where he abused Doe after other allegations came forward, and move on to another troop. It’s possible Boland even led others to abuse boys, as one of Boland’s assistants, Fleming Weaver, has been accused of rape in a separate case by a Gainesville, Florida man. In every case, however, law enforcement was never notified, and the cycle was allowed to continue. The plaintiffs involved in this lawsuit, though, hope to change that.
Time Is Running Out
For many victims, a suit like this wouldn’t be possible. In a provision that expired last year, the statute of limitations was temporarily extended in Georgia for victims of sexual abuse who were seeking damages. Both the Athens and Gainesville suits were filed at that point. Some lawmakers made efforts to continue that provision, but the Georgia state legislature defeated the extended statute bill in early 2018. The provisions would have moved the age limitation from 23 to 38. Many believe the Boy Scouts’ lobbying efforts behind the scenes on that bill were responsible for its defeat.