UPDATED: Were you abused at the Arlington Boys' & Girls' Club? Authorities want to know.
Club leaders and police are asking after the disclosure William F. Sullivan allegedly abused children there between 1970s and 1990s. Known as "sully," he worked at the club from 1964 to 2002, when he died.
"The Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, the Arlington Police Department, and the Club encourage anyone with any information about possible sexual abuse in any form and at any time related to the Club to contact the Middlesex District Attorney’s Child Abuse Unit at 781-897-8400 or the Arlington Police Department at 781-643-1212," said a new release issued Thursday, Feb. 7, by Derek Curran, executive director of the club.
Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan told The Boston Globe that the alleged victims are now adults and would not disclose their gender. Ryan told newspaper that Arlington police launched its own investigation.
A letter from club officials accompanying the news release names Sullivan. The Globe story cites a June 2002 Boston Herald obituary as saying that Sullivan lived in West Roxbury and had been the club's program director.
A former member of the club brought an allegation to the club’s attention in late 2011, and the club said it hired someone to investigate before informing Arlington police of the allegations on Jan. 8.
Because Sullivan is dead, Ryan told The Globe that if information the club provided to police is true, there may not be any prosecutable crimes in connection with the allegations. He said police will make their own determination through their investigation.
In its letter to the community, the club said that even though the allegations being investigated concerned events that happened many years ago, the club has reviewed its policies and procedures to ensure that it is a safe place for children today.
The club hired a consultant to revise and enhance is policies and procedures for handling allegations of child abuse, and it expanded its background check policy for employees and volunteers.
Here is the full text of the letter provided to media outlets by Curran; Stephen W. DeCourcey, president; Rachel H. Prindle, first vice president; and Stephen J. Cunningham, second vice president:
"We write with heavy hearts to inform you that the Arlington Boys & Girls Club announced publicly today that it has concluded an investigation concerning allegations that a former employee who was employed at the Club from 1964 to 2002 sexually abused children at the Club between the 1970’s and 1990’s. Before we explain how the allegations came to our attention, we want to stress that the employee, William Sullivan, is deceased and has not worked at the Club for more than a decade. Moreover, at no time during the Club’s investigation were your children at any risk associated with this situation. We are communicating with you to keep you informed, reassure you and humbly acknowledge that the trust you place in us is something we must earn every day.
"In late 2011, a former member of the Club brought an allegation to our attention. We are extremely grateful to this individual for coming forward. The Club took the complaint very seriously and promptly hired a third-party to conduct an independent investigation. In the course of the investigation, we were deeply troubled to discover that similar allegations of abuse had been made concerning Mr. Sullivan.
"At the conclusion of the investigation, the Club disclosed its findings to the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office and the Arlington Police Department and pledged our full continuing cooperation. The Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office and Arlington Police Department jointly formed the preliminary opinion, and so advised us, that it appears there are presently no prosecutable crimes that they can discern based on the information we disclosed. Nevertheless, given the nature of the allegations, the Arlington Police Department is conducting a follow up inquiry with which we are assisting. We encourage anyone with any information about potential sexual abuse in any form and at any time involving the Club to contact the
Middlesex District Attorney’s Child Abuse Unit at 781-897-8400 or the Arlington Police Department at 781-643-1212.
"The safety and well-being of your children is and has been our primary concern. To that end, even though the allegations at issue here concerned events that happened many years ago, the Club undertook a review of its policies and procedures to ensure that it is a safe place for children today. We hired a consultant to help us revise and enhance our policies and procedures for handling allegations of child abuse, including allegations made by adults of abuse from long ago. We have posted our revised complaint procedure on our website, and have reinforced and clarified our expectations of employees, volunteers, officers and members of the Club’s Board of Directors to report any such allegations, regardless of how old those allegations might be.
"We are also working with the organization Darkness to Light (“D2L”), a child abuse prevention organization, to help us identify and respond to allegations of abuse. This organization has already conducted a training program at the Club this past fall and we plan to continue to use D2L as an important resource going forward. The Club also implemented an improved whistleblower policy and expanded its background check policy for employees and volunteers. Further, the Club commissioned an inspection of the Club building by an engineering firm to ensure the Club is safe and to make recommendations for improvements, which the Club is implementing.
"In closing, we understand how troubling this news must be for all of you and assure you it has been deeply troubling for all of us. We are a community in which you place great trust and faith. We strive to ensure your children are provided outstanding services in a safe and nurturing environment. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance during this difficult period.
DID YOU KNOW "Sully": What were your experiences? Contact the publisher of this site and discuss publication of your comments. Your comments will not be identified with your name, but the publisher will ask for your name and how you know what you claim. If you agree to provide your name, that is your choice. Full names of sources in most news stories are preferable.
This story was published Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, and updated that day to reflect the correct years of the alleged abuse. The note above was added the next day.