A Nova Scotia man has filed a lawsuit against Scouts Canada alleging the group failed to do enough to protect him from a scout leader molesting him.
The 40-year-old former boy scout alleges in the lawsuit that his scout leader, Donald George Schweyer, sexually abused him repeatedly over more than two years in the 1980s while he was a scout in Lunenburg County.
The allegations have not been proven in court. Schweyer was criminally charged in 2007 for sex abuse involving five boys, but committed suicide at the age of 57, just days before his trial.
"There's no other options left I guess. He's not here to face justice," says the plaintiff, whose identity is covered by a publication ban. "I figure if you don’t make them pay, nobody’s ever going to ever stop this stuff from happening to other people."
A CBC investigation unearthed the lawsuit while searching court cases across the country. It’s one of 24 civil cases involving dozens of plaintiffs that have been filed against Scouts Canada since 1995, for incidents dating from the 1960s to the ‘90s.
More than half of the cases were quietly settled out of court, many involving confidentiality agreements barring plaintiffs from discussing the settlement.
The Nova Scotia lawsuit, filed in 2008, is one of a handful of civil cases still underway.
The statement of claim, filed against Scouts Canada and Schweyer’s estate, alleges that the abuse took place while Schweyer was a scout leader in the Mill Cove area. It happened near the former Canadian Forces Station Mill Cove where Schweyer was a navy medic.
The lawsuit claims the organization failed to take adequate steps to discipline and terminate Schweyer when it knew or ought to have known that abuse was occurring.
In a statement of defence, the Scouts have denied all claims and argue that the lawsuit is outside limitation.
‘Call it despair’
The former scout first met Schweyer in 1983, when he was 12 years old and part of the small Mill Cove Scout troop.
Across the country
Northern Ontario, Manitoba
"He seemed nice at first," said the man. "Kind, and just like a regular person."
Soon, though, the Scout leader was allegedly molesting him during camp outings and during meetings at his house, he says.
When he joined the troop, the former boy scout says Schweyer used the pretence of a physical exam to strip him down and fondle him.
Another time, he says he awoke to find Schweyer’s mouth on his genitals. "I couldn’t believe what was going on," said the man. "I just felt I guess you’d call it despair."
For years, the former scout struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. Twenty years passed before he finally told his mother in 2005 about the repeated abuse.
Scouts Canada declined to comment about the lawsuit or any other possible civil cases against Schweyer.
"I do not have any information or insight that I can provide you on this," Scouts Canada’s spokesman John Petitti said in an email.
Scouts Canada has stated that the organization’s current policy is to immediately suspend volunteer leaders when a complaint is made and report accusations of abuse to police and child protection authorities.
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