WEEDSPORT, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The former Mayor of Weedsport, Victor Sine, who died in 2018, is being accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old to whom he served as scoutmaster and school club adviser in the 1970s.
The 13-year-old, now 57, Scott Coats, filed a lawsuit Wednesday morning against the Boy Scouts of America and the Weedsport School District.
Coats, who never shared his story publicly until now, moved to Weedsport as a 13-year-old in 1967.
He says his first interaction with Sine was when he joined the junior-senior high school’s audiovisual club, for which Sine served as the adviser.
Sine was employed by the school district in an administrative role.
Coats then joined Scoutmaster Sine’s Troop 59.
Without his father in his life, Coats says Sine filled the void of a male figure.
“He would give me rides home from school to keep me off the school bus where I was beat up almost daily,” Coats told NewsChannel 9.
Sine’s apparent kindness was later unmasked as a ploy for sex, Coats feels.
He said Sine “would withhold rides home so I would have to ride the bus, and I would get beat up and I would beg him to take me back into his fold.”
“At least half of the abuse I took at the hands of Vic took place on school grounds, after school, in the basement – the dirt floor basement of the school. Unlike some kids who suffer from abuse and blocked it, I remember it all,” Coats went on to say.
In 1999, after therapy, Coats wrote letters to the Cayuga County District Attorney and the Boy Scouts of America, with his accusations.
While the DA’s office informed Coats that the statute of limitations had expired, he never heard back from the Boy Scouts.
Last summer, New York’s Child Victims Act went into effect, allowing victims to file civil suits against abusers and organizations that allowed it, no matter how old the case.
Coats and his attorneys believe he wasn’t Sine’s first, nor last, victim. They encourage anyone abused by him or anyone who was aware of the abuse to come forward.
“To the people who knew about this in Weedsport, I want you to come forward and clear your conscience,” Coats said. You knew this was happening. I spoke to people who admitted it.”
The Child Victims Act allows victims to sue confidentially, without publicly releasing his or her name.
In response to an email from NewsChannel 9, Weedsport’s current superintendent of schools, Shaun O’Connor, said the district hasn’t been served a copy of the lawsuit.
“The matter is currently being investigated by the School District’s legal counsel,” O’Connor said. “At this juncture, the School District does not wish to comment on this potential or pending litigation matter.”
O’Connor didn’t respond to an email with follow-up questions from NewsChannel 9, which asked about Sine’s employment timeline and how a school district pays for settlements or liabilities from lawsuits in general.
The Boy Scouts of America released the following statement regarding the allegations:
First and foremost, we care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our program to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward. It is the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement.
Our records indicate that Mr. Sine was added to the Volunteer Screening Database (VSD) on May 12, 1999, following the receipt of a fax from Mr. Coats on May 5, 1999 notifying BSA of reported abuse. Inclusion in the VSD would have removed Mr. Sine from Scouting and barred him from further participation in our programs. We deeply apologize if we did not properly inform Mr. Coats of the actions taken against Mr. Sine at that time.
The Boy Scouts of America is committed to fulfilling our social and moral responsibility to fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting, while also ensuring that we carry out our mission to serve youth, families and local communities through our programs. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs – it is our top priority. The BSA has a multi-layered process of safeguards informed by experts, including the following, all of which act as barriers to abuse: a leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times and bans one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children – either in person, online, or via text; a thorough screening process for adult leaders and staff including criminal background checks, and the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse.
The BSA also offers a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1) and email contact address (email@example.com) to access counseling and help needed to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.
We steadfastly believe that one incident of abuse is one too many and we are continually improving all of our policies to prevent abuse. This is precisely why we fully support and advocate for the creation of a national registry overseen by a governmental entity, similar to the national sex offender registry, of those who are suspected of child abuse or inappropriate behavior with a child, thus allowing all youth-serving organizations to share and access such information. We call upon Congress and other youth- serving organizations to support this initiative.
For more information about the BSA’s youth protection policies, please visit: www.scouting.org/youth-safety.
Sine died at age 92, according to his obituary. In lieu of flowers, donations were asked to go, in part, to Troop 59.