Law enforcement officials and operators of a Sandwich religious camp today vowed to help Senator Scott Brown if he wants to pursue possible criminal charges against a summer camp counselor who sexually assaulted him four decades ago when he was a child.
Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said in a telephone interview that he has not spoken to Brown about launching a criminal investigation, but plans to contact the senator based on media reports that Brown reveals in his new autobiography that he was molested at a Cape Cod camp when he was 10.
“I will reach out to Senator Brown only for the purposes of ascertaining his feelings about the situation with respect to whether he wants to do anything further,’’ O'Keefe said.
The prosecutor acknowledged that successfully prosecuting someone for a crime that allegedly occurred around 1970 would be difficult, if not impossible. There is a 15-year statute of limitations on sexual assault charges in Massachusetts. However, if the abuser left the state within that time then the clock would stop, making charges possible.
"Some cases that are 40 or 41 years old, the chances are extremely remote that the person would be subject to prosecution unless they moved out of state and stayed out of state for those 40 years,’’ O’Keefe said.
Brown, whose book, "Against All Odds,'' is scheduled for release on Monday, left a swearing-in ceremony today for US District Court Judge Denise Jefferson Casper at Faneuil Hall without speaking to reporters.
The senator has not identified the camp by name, but operators of Camp Good News, a non-denominational Christian camp in Sandwich that was established in 1935, confirmed today that Brown attended the camp as a child and said they were devastated by the possibility that he may have been molested there.
Dr. Stephen Brooks, a surgeon at Cape Cod Hospital and vice president of the non-profit Society for Christian Activities, which operates the camp ,said he left a message for Brown today, but had not spoken to the senator and didn't know the identity of the counselor.
"Not only did I call him, but we have sent him a letter of apology and heartfelt sadness for what's going on,'' said Brooks, whose grandfather, a Navy chaplain who was decorated for bravery in World War II, founded the family-run camp in 1935. "It just makes me sick.''
Brooks said the camp may still have records indicating who was on staff when Brown attended the camp some 41 years ago, but it didn't make sense for him to go through them without knowing the identity of the abuser. He said he was waiting to talk to Brown or state authorities before taking any action himself.
"However we can help Senator Brown, we would be happy to do so,'' Brooks said. "If Scott Brown were to say, 'I want to get that guy,' I would support him in that. I'm going to support Scott Brown because he's had the courage to do what he's done and I'm going to support him in any way I can.''
Brooks, who also attended the camp as a boy and is only a couple of years older than Brown, said he did not attend camp with Brown, but was unaware of any allegations of molestation at the camp around the time Brown was there until the senator came forward.
Brown, in his autobiography set to be published next week, provides a disturbing account of being approached by a camp counselor, who fondled him.
In his book, a copy of which has been obtained by the Globe, Brown does not identify the camp by name, but calls it "a religious camp down on Cape Cod."
Brown wrote that he attended the camp for four summers, three of which were spent under the shadow of the predatory counselor. In his fourth year there, the counselor was no longer on the staff and Brown himself had taken on the role of helping other children as an assistant counselor.
"It was my best year," he writes.
Also today, the camp sent a letter to parents of current campers addressing Brown's account.
“Our camp is committed to the physical and emotional safety of our campers, past, present and future. His book is a poignant reminder of the serious harm that can befall children at the hands of trusted adults. Please pray with us for Senator Brown and his family," the letter said.
The letter offered advice to parents on how to spots signs that a child may have fallen victim of a sexual predator, and then vowed that children who attend the camp now will not suffer like Brown did.
“Camp Good News has been bringing state of the art camping in a Christian atmosphere for over 75 years. Despite this unfortunate circumstance, we will continue to provide life-changing summer experiences, with ever-more increasing vigilance and awareness about child safety issues,’’ the letter closes.
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