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Arlington Boys & Girls Club's Investigation Into Sexual-Abuse Allegations Surfaces

The club released the following statement at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

Update 5:25 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8

This article has been updated.

Update 5:55 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7

William "Sully" Sullivan, the alleged abuser, was program director at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club, according to a Boston Herald obituary. Sullivan, of West Roxbury, died in June 2002 at the age of 66.

Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan said Thursday, "We were recently made aware of these allegations and are conducting our own independent investigation."

The Arlington Boys & Girls Club first knew of the allegations in late 2011, according to a Thursday statement from the club. In 2011, the club hired a "third-party" to conduct an "independent investigation," according to a Thursday letter from the club's leadership team, instead of contacting authorities.

Update 4:40 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7

Arlington Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Derek Curran, "The Arlington Boys & Girls Club has no further comment at this time."

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Statement from the Arlington Boys & Girls Club, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013.

The Arlington Boys & Girls Club (the “Club”) announced publicly today that it has recently concluded an investigation into 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. The known allegations concern purely historical conduct, and the employee against whom the allegations were made passed away more than a decade ago. The Club disclosed its findings to the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office and the Arlington Police Department on January 8, 2013. As part of its disclosure, the Club has pledged its full cooperation to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and the Arlington Police Department.

Based on the information disclosed by the Club, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and Arlington Police Department have jointly formed the preliminary opinion and so advised the Club that it appears at this time that there are presently no prosecutable crimes that they can discern from the facts uncovered by the Club during its investigation. Given the nature of the allegations, the Arlington Police Department is conducting a follow-up inquiry based on what the Club has disclosed.  This inquiry will be coordinated with the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office.

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.

A letter from the Arlington Boys & Girls Club leadership team, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2012.

Dear Friends,

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.

Sincerely,

Derek F. Curran, Executive Director
Stephen W. DeCourcey, President
Rachel H. Prindle, First Vice President
Stephen J. Cunningham, Second Vice President

J March 05, 2013 at 01:53 AM
This guy and his behavior is a "text book" ped. I was never victimized but his guy used to stand in the showers yelling at all the boys to "get those suits off" give kids "pink bellies" with his beard. Ya that's normal....Jerry Sanduski used to work with kids too...
James Fee March 12, 2013 at 07:36 PM
J L R Sully sexually abused me at the Arlington Boys Club when I was a grade school boy in the 1960s. Rest in peace, Sully. Me? My day of rest is yet to come.
Hi Bill! March 13, 2013 at 02:44 PM
I applaud your bravery and your courage. Let's hope that others are able to find their courage as well so that those who are destined to live in fear will finally have hope as well.
C May 21, 2013 at 01:40 PM
judging by the posts here, arlington hasn't changed much in the last 30 years. that's not a compliment...
Hi Bill! May 26, 2013 at 06:57 AM
The Arlington Police deserve special praise for bringing justice to the people of Arlington with the arrest of Paul Collins, who is accused of FORCIBLY raping a child while working at the Arlington Boys and Girls Club. It is the opinion of many in the community that the Club perpetuated a cover-up by waiting a year before disclosing the allegations against William Sullivan. If that is true, then it is difficult to believe they would have willingly assisted efforts to bring forth an arrest involving entirely new allegations, which means the Arlington Police would have had to persevere against the tide. For that, I applaud their devotion to the people of Arlington and especially the children.

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