Georgia Pastor Seeks Redemption After Hiding Boy Scout Sex Abuse for Years

GeorgiaThis past Sunday, Bill Coates, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Georgia prayed for forgiveness as he climbed into his pulpit to begin Palm Sunday services for his congregation.

Coates’ plea for forgiveness came in the wake of a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against the church and the Boy Scouts for years of alleged sexual abuse by a Scoutmaster in a troop sponsored by the church.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Coates helped conceal the sexual abuse for years.  Scoutmaster Fleming Weaver admitted to abusing at least five young boys.  Weaver is also a deacon at the prominent church which counts Georgia Governor Nathan Deal among its congregants.

According to the newspaper:

Weaver dodged accountability at nearly every turn. Law enforcement failed to bring charges — even after Weaver confessed to molesting at least five other boys — citing the statute of limitations. Officials at First Baptist Church, which sponsored Weaver’s Gainesville troop, knew about his behavior in the early 1980s, but a criminal investigative file indicates they didn’t tell the Boy Scouts or law enforcement.

According to the recent investigation, law enforcement knew about Weaver’s crimes as early as 1995 and the church knew in 1981, but neither took any action against him.

The district attorney who oversaw the investigation in 1994 said her hands were tied because of the statute of limitations. “I don’t think we could do anything,” said Lydia Sartain, now in private practice.

This current civil lawsuit can be filed now because Georgia recently passed legislation that allows a two-year window in the state’s statute of limitations for child sexual abuse.

NOTE: For more information about statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse case, read this blog piece: How Long Do You Have to Sue for Child Sexual Abuse?

Dumas Law Group has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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