Sex abuse lawsuit against Scouts halted, for now

Athens Banner-Herald

March 18, 2018

By Lee Shearer

A lawsuit filed by former Boy Scouts over alleged sexual abuse by a former Scout leader has been dismissed, but that won’t be the end of it, says a lawyer for the men.

The men filed suit nearly a year ago against the Boy Scouts of America, the Northeast Georgia Council of Boy Scouts, several Athens churches and the estate of Ernest Boland, saying they suffered lasting harm from Boland’s sexual abuse.

The Scouts and the churches knew Boland had been accused of sexual abuse as long ago as 1961, yet allowed him to continue as a Scout leader for years, according to the lawsuit.

A successful Athens businessman, Boland died at age 88 in 2013, the year after an Oregon judge forced the Boy Scouts to release the names of thousands of Scout leaders expelled from the organization because of accusations of sexual abuse.

The Clarke County lawsuit, filed last year, alleged the churches and the Scouts had endangered the public with a “persuasive and systematic cover-up” of those identities.

Darren Penn, the lawyer for the men suing the Boy Scouts and Boland’s estate, said the men will file suit again, but just when, and on what grounds, depends on a bill now pending in the Georgia Legislature.

Penn requested the lawsuit be dismissed without prejudice earlier this month, just days before a hearing was scheduled on defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit before new Western Judicial Circuit Judge Regina Quick, who took over the case when she was appointed to take the place of retiring Judge David Sweat.

Their decision to dismiss the suit hinged on several factors, Penn said, including objections defendants had made about notification, and the possibility that Quick could have ruled in favor of the defendants, which would have presented a big obstacle for the plaintiffs.

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