Scoutmaster named in abuse files served at Athens church pastored by columnist GriffithBy JOHN A. WINTERS
More than 30 years ago, a fellow pastor approached Dr. James Griffith about a troubling subject — that a member of Griffith’s church in Athens might be molesting boys.
Griffith, who writes an editorial page column for The Newnan Times-Herald, took immediate steps. The member in question, Ernest Boland, resigned from his post.
Boland was a long-time Rotarian, a colonel in the Army Reserve, an Athens businessman, and a leader of three different Boy Scout troops over a 25-year period. He is now a man accused of molesting dozens of boys from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Boland’s name was eventually placed in the BSA’s “Confidential Files,” which included others accused of molestation. The reason for him being added to the list was “substantiated reports,” according to released BSA documents.
About 20 Georgians are on those lists, now commonly called the “Perversion Files.” No one from Coweta County is on the list.
At the time of the accusations, Boland was a scoutmaster in Athens. He is now 88, confined to a wheelchair.
When the allegations first came to Griffith, he was pastor at Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens. Boland was in the process of setting up a new troop, Troop 3, which would be sponsored by Beech Haven where he was a longtime member.
“As you know, all this came about because the Supreme Court ordered the Boy Scouts to release the documents,” Griffith said earlier this week. “The only thing I can say is that as soon as it came to me attention, I turned it over to the church leaders.
“We had an attorney on our board and some others and I had them deal with it,” he added. “It was not my place as the pastor.”
Griffith said the board members approached Boland, who in turn resigned.
“He was very active in the church,” the former pastor said. “He had a wonderful wife and son. I feel for the family but even more for those little boys.”
Griffith is now retired, living in Palmetto Park.
“There were rumors, but we had no proof,” he said. “The main thing is we got it corrected so it never impacted our church.”
“It’s very unfortunate, nothing good about it,” Griffith said. “It’s just a sad, sad thing.”