Victim sues camp for abuse, SNAP responds

We applaud Ms. Madden for reporting her abuse to the camp two years ago, discussing it publicly about it now, and taking action to expose the wrongdoers who concealed the heinous crimes. She’s a brave woman who, by acting responsibly, will no doubt encourage others who are suffering in silence to speak up and get help and expose predators and protect kids.

Camp officials reportedly kept silent about child sex abuse allegations there for two years and would be doing so now if not for Senator Scott Brown’s disclosure this spring. Shame on the officials of Camp Good News. It’s disturbing to see this kind of reckless secrecy.

It’s also disturbing to see camp officials attacking Ms. Madden’s motives.

So what if Madden kept in touch with camp officials for years after her abuse? So what if she sent her son there? So what is if Madden’s dad gave money to the camp? None of this is relevant. All of this is a smokescreen.

Victims of horrific childhood trauma sometimes do inexplicable things afterwards. That doesn’t undermine their credibility. If anything, irrational behavior after child sex abuse should enhance a victim’s credibility. How could someone be horrifically victimized as a kid, yet act perfectly normal for the rest of their lives?

By bringing up these claims, Hope Brooks and her camp colleagues are clearly trying to scare other victims into keeping quiet. We hope they’ll fail.

Ms. Madden’s courage and determination is exemplary. We beg others with information or suspicions about child sex crimes – at this camp or anywhere – to dig deep, find strength, speak up, safeguard others, expose predators and start healing.

* * *

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

* * *

Woman sues camp where Scott Brown was allegedly abused

By Travis Andersen, Globe Staff

A woman who attended the same camp on Cape Cod where US Senator Scott Brown was allegedly sexually abused as a boy is claiming in a lawsuit that she was repeatedly raped by a janitor at the camp, and that camp officials did nothing to protect her.

“Child molestation hell is what they put me through,” said Cheryl A. Madden, 45, of Daytona Beach, Fla. at a news conference today in the Boston office of her attorney, Carmen L. Durso.

Madden is seeking undisclosed financial damages in Barnstable Superior Court against Camp Good News, two of its executives, her alleged abuser, and a counselor whom she said was in the girls’ bathroom during one of the incidents but took no action.

Madden said during the news conference that the janitor abused her repeatedly in a bathroom at the camp beginning in 1973 when she was 7 and continuing over the next two summers. She said she did not remember the janitor’s name or the name of the counselor who ignored the abuse.

She said she told her mother that she could not return for a fourth summer because of the abuse.

“I was sick of being fondled and humiliated by someone at the camp,” Madden said.

The camp denied the allegations in a statement issued late this afternoon.

“We are well aware of the plaintiff’s allegations and believe there is no merit to them. We look forward to challenging the specifics in court,” the camp said.

Madden said memories of the abuse first surfaced in April 2009 when her father, Bob Madden, died of a heart attack and left $111,000 to the camp, she said.

She said she called camp official Hope Brooks shortly after her father’s death to tell her about the gift. When Brooks asked if she had enjoyed her time as a camper, Madden said, she informed her that she had been molested there.

She said she later sent her 15-year-old son to the camp, first in 2009 and again the following summer, because she thought her abuse was an “isolated incident.”

However, Madden said, Brooks called her in February shortly before Brown was about to make his revelation, and told her that the senator would not be naming the camp. She also asked Madden if she planned to go public with her abuse. Madden said she did not plan to do so and that the camp should admit to its mistakes.

“It is interesting to note that she maintained close contact with camp officials for more than 2 decades after her alleged abuse and even sent her own son to the camp as recently as last year. The fact that her late father left a significant amount of money to the Camp, some of which the Camp returned to the plaintiff may also be a factor in her filing suit,” the camp said in its statement.

Brown revealed in February that he had been abused by a male counselor at a Christian camp on the Cape, later identified as Camp Good News.

The camp issued an apology to Brown, but his revelation has prompted more than a dozen former campers to come forward with allegations of abuse at the hands of multiple camp staffers over a number of years.

In April, long-time camp employee Charles “Chuck” Devita committed suicide after allegations surfaced that he had abused campers.

Madden said that Devita’s suicide was one of the factors that prompted her to move forward with the lawsuit.

According to Madden’s civil complaint, the defendants knew or should have known that the janitor was “engaged in illegal and inappropriate sexual conduct with young girls at the camp.” The complaint also alleges that camp officials “fraudulently suppressed, concealed, and intentionally prevented the disclosure of the sexual abuse of children at the camp.”

Durso and Madden both said at today’s news conference that the primary motivation for filing the suit is not money but protecting children against abuse in the future.

The Globe reported in June that those who have come forward are hoping justice will be done.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com

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published this page in Media Statements 2011-08-23 12:45:52 -0500
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