by Todd Ruger
A former Boy Scout accused of sexually abusing a younger scout in his Sarasota-based troop during a Panhandle camping trip has pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
Related Links:Third family says Scout was abused Sex abuse case aims at Boy Scouts The plea deal allowed Robert Brehm, 20, to serve four years probation instead of prison time over accusations he used a knife to demand oral sex from a 12-year-old boy on the 2007 trip to a park in the Florida Panhandle.
But the deal also requires Brehm to testify in three ongoing civil negligence lawsuits in Sarasota County, which allege the Boy Scouts of America and other group leaders had lax supervision and allowed children to be sexually abused.
Two of the lawsuits assert troop leaders with the national program's Southwest Florida Council knew Brehm had a history of past abuses and bullying, and that they did not have adequately trained supervisors on the trip to prevent attacks.
Brehm was originally charged with lewd and lascivious battery, but pleaded last month to an aggravated battery charge, saving victims from the trauma of having to testify. Charges were dropped at one point due to delays in the case, but an appeals court overturned that and the case moved forward.
Damien Mallard, the attorney representing the three sets of parents suing Boy Scouts, refused comment on Wednesday, citing legal and ethical constraints.
But attorneys familiar with negligence claims say information from Brehm could be damaging to the Boy Scouts' defense because it could show the group knew about his prior misbehavior.
One lawsuit alleges that Brehm, a 2008 graduate of Sarasota Military Academy, held a knife to a 12-year-old boy's throat and forced him to perform oral sex during Troop 23's 2007 trip to Florida Caverns State Park in Jackson County.
The other suit alleges that Brehm physically threatened a 13-year-old boy to force the boy to allow a third Scout to perform oral sex on the boy during a 2007 trip to Camp Flying Eagle in Manatee County.
A third area family filed a lawsuit alleging their son was sexually abused in June 2009, when an older Scout from Troop 338 allegedly held an 11-year-old boy to the ground at Camp Shands in Hawthorne and forced him to submit to oral sex.
After the first two suits, the Southwest Florida Council of the Boy Scouts sent a written statement denying the allegations.
The lawsuits continue through the court system, and are expected to go to trial later this year.
Information from the Jackson County Floridian was used in this story.