A Georgia man is breaking his silence after 30 years, following claims a scoutmaster sexually assaulted him. According to a lawsuit, 47-year-old by Rob Lawson claims former Scoutmaster, Fleming Weaver, sexually assaulted him as a teen.
Lawson says it happened during a trip in 1985 at Camp Rainey Mountain inside the Chattahoochee National Forest. He was 15-years-old at the time. The trip was called “The Ordeal.” It was a camping excursion to earn the Order of the Arrow status, an elite group of Scouts.
“I can particularly remember him coming around asking me how I was feeling,” Lawson recalled of that day. While the rest of his troop stayed near a campfire, Weaver allegedly lead the Gainesville resident to another part of the campsite.
“He said, why don’t we go in your tent and let me check you out," Lawson recounted. “From in there, it was….what he did was sexual assault. Yeah, he assaulted me.”
“During the process, I was like, 'Why are you doing this,'" Lawson remembers asking. "He -- he’s just like -- 'Do it,' and he got really angry." Based on the experience, Lawson believes it wasn’t Weaver’s first time.
Weaver never faced criminal charges for the alleged rape, but Lawson was correct that Weaver had sexually assaulted boys before.
According to 1995 Hall County Sheriff interview transcripts, Weaver admitted to sexually abusing other Scouts in the early 1980s.
In one transcript, the investigator asked Weaver, “How many would you say of these kids were abused by you?” Weaver replied, “I’d say five or six at least.”
Weaver later explained to the investigator, “I realize what I did is a heinous thing…and I was sick…and I have sought counseling.”
Weaver claims he stopped abusing boys in 1981.
Through his attorney, Weaver declined to be interviewed for this story and denies Lawson’s claims.
Despite admitting to sexually assaulting Boy Scouts, Weaver, now 83, never faced criminal charges because the statute of limitations at the time had run out.
Natalie Woodward is Lawson’s attorney. “The only way to affect change in these organizations is to bring it to light that’s why I thought it was an important case, maybe the most important case of my career,” said Woodward.
Lawson’s lawsuit also claims the Boy Scout leadership knew Weaver abused children in the past, but allowed him to stay in the organization for years – knowingly putting Lawson and other scouts in danger.
"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 BSA offers assistance with counseling to any Scout, former Scout, or the family member of any Scout who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting. The BSA has a toll-free help line (855-295-1531) and email contact address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for these sensitive matters.”
Time Running Out
While Weaver may never face criminal charges, victims of child sexual assault in Georgia can sue their alleged rapists under a Georgia state law called the Hidden Predator Act. But, time is running out for victims. The law expires July 1, 2017.
Lawson hoped by speaking out, he could compel other victims of child sexual assault to come forward. He still struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and he doesn’t want others to go through the pain of hiding a secret as he did.
“I feel like somebody had to speak out,” said Lawson.