Posing as youth counselor, con man fools city court Now he faces charges of molesting two teen-age boys put in his care

April 04, 1993|By Michael Ollove and Scott Shane | Michael Ollove and Scott Shane,Staff Writers

David Lee Weyer said he wanted to salvage young lives. Fo six months, that's what everyone thought he was doing.

There wasn't a juvenile counselor with more energy or determination. When one of his delinquent teen-agers missed a curfew, Mr. Weyer would prowl the night streets to find him. If a parent called in distress, he would be at the house at a moment's notice.

"He was memorable, a very forceful advocate," said a master who hears cases in Baltimore Juvenile Court. "He wouldn't just say, 'I think I can help this kid.' He'd say, 'I think I can make the difference in this kid's life.' "

And so from last July to December, officials turned to the lanky, curly-haired man the youngsters called "Mr. Dave." Public defenders and caseworkers welcomed his services. Veteran judges and juvenile masters assigned youths to his supervision.

They were all putting their trust in a con man.

Had officials ever checked, they would have discovered that Mr. Weyer, 31, has a lengthy criminal record, including convictions for theft, arson and child abuse -- slashing the face of a 3-year-old boy for whom he was baby-sitting. They would have learned that the agencies he claimed to represent did not exist, their letterheads works of fiction. They would have realized that he had never asked for payment for his services.

And they might have detected a sinister motive for all his dedication.

Since December, when officials finally began asking questions and stopped referring youngsters to Mr. Weyer, a grand jury has indicted him on charges of sexually abusing two boys entrusted to him.

Charged with protecting the children, the state may have lent its authority to their abuser. The two teen-agers allegedly molested by Mr. Weyer told police that they were afraid to resist him because of his power over them. Ordered by the court to obey him, they said, they saw their choice as submitting to his demands for sex or risking a long stay in a juvenile detention center.

Authorities fear the number of victims could rise. Police are trying to identify and interview the approximately 60 children Mr. Weyer supervised to determine if others were molested.

Families are aghast that a criminal had been given supervision of their children. "I mean, this man was recommended by Juvenile Services," said the aunt and guardian of a 12-year-old boy. "He had the blessing of the court."

In a telephone interview from the Baltimore jail, where he awaits trial, Mr. Weyer adamantly denied the sexual abuse charges. He claimed that the boys, under pressure from investigators, are making up the stories against him.

And he defended his work, portraying himself as a uniquely skilled counselor whose aggressive approach got through to delinquents.

"When these kids were working with me, they weren't causing problems," he said, insisting that he had only the best of intentions. "There's nothing that is nasty and evil in me."

The salesman

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about David Weyer's infiltration of Baltimore's juvenile justice system is how easy it was. All it took was salesmanship.

By his own account, Mr. Weyer had made his first contacts with delinquent teen-agers outside the court, helping youths he had met casually to find jobs.

Last July, he began accompanying some of them to court, where he met masters and judges, public defenders and Juvenile Services case managers, all of whom later referred youths to him.

Had he applied for a job as a counselor at the Department of Juvenile Services -- even if he simply wanted to sign up formally as a volunteer -- officials would have probed his background and checked his criminal record as a matter of course.

But, by presenting himself to harried court officials as a counselor with a private agency, Mr. Weyer evaded even the most cursory check. There are dozens of private youth programs whose counselors regularly appear in court, and new ones come along regularly.

One juvenile master remembers being favorably impressed by Mr. Weyer when he came in with a youth and his parents. "He stepped forward and said, 'I'm so and so' and gave the name of an agency," the master says. "He knew the kid, and he knew the family. Certainly in the eyes of this family, he was the first guy really going to bat for their kid."

He came with all the accouterments of the professional. To a Juvenile Services case manager he met in court, he sent an information packet announcing a program for juvenile offenders as well as two seminars, "Teenage Stress: How to Cope in a Complex World" and "Juveniles and Dangerous Drugs."

The letterhead said "Maryland Law Research Center" and gave a downtown Baltimore address. Mr. Weyer identified himself as a paralegal and enclosed printed referral forms.

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