Camp Good News Case Grows As More Alleged Victims Come Forward

Download Audio

The story of a summer camp on Cape Cod embroiled by allegations of sex abuse is deepening. The mother of Charles "Chuck" DeVita, a longtime camp employee who apparently committed suicide Wednesday amid abuse allegations, said she suspected years ago that her son was a pedophile.

Sandy DeVita said she even alerted officials at Camp Good News in Sandwich, an allegation that camp officials have not commented on.

The camp first came under scrutiny in February when Sen. Scott Brown released a book, saying he was abused at a Christian summer camp on the Cape.

WBUR's David Boeri joined Morning Edition to give the latest on this story.

Bob Oakes: Is there any connection between DeVita and Sen. Scott Brown?

David Boeri: No apparent connection at all. This is a story on top of a story. After Brown's book came out last winter, in which he did not name the camp, Camp Good News confirmed Brown had been a camper there when he was 10, the same age at which he said he was molested. But DeVita would have been 3 years old at the time, so he's clearly not the camp counselor who Brown was writing about.

Prior to DeVita's death, prosecutors were looking into concerns about Camp Good News since the revelations in Brown's book. They had already received an allegation from a client of attorney Mitchell Garabedian. Now he's heard from three more people. Tell us about these claims.

Garabedian said the first client to come forward said he was molested at the camp by DeVita in 1985, when DeVita was a camp counselor. DeVita would have been 16 or 17 years old at the time. Garabedian sent that report to Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe and the story was reported on Tuesday. After news of Wednesday's suicide, Garabedian told me he received more calls:

Today, I received phone calls from two individuals who claimed to have been sexually molested at Camp Good News by Chuck DeVita. That's in addition to the allegation I had notified the district attorney's [office] about before. I was also contacted today by someone who alleges they were sexually molested by an alleged perpetrator, other than Mr. DeVita.

Brown declined our request for an interview, and he's said very little publicly about the revelations of abuse.

He's clearly been uncomfortable and reluctant to talk about this subject. He continues to emphasize that he's never named the camp and in his book he says "I've purposely erased his name from my mind, but I can remember how he looked."

Here he is, speaking from the U.S. Capitol on the Howie Carr Show on WRKO-AM Wednesday:

First of all, no one's asked me to do anything. It really has nothing to do with me, what the attorney's doing and what the other person has done to come forward. But for every person it's different. Unless you've experienced it, you have no clue what it's like to talk about it, No. 1. And to have expectations of what other people want you to do, you know, everybody wrestles with these things as I have been wrestling with it for 42 years, as this other individual, I understand, was wrestling with it.

"Wrestling" is an apt description, when you read his account and listen to Brown struggling to talk about this, you realize how horrific these incidents are. But Brown seems to have been unprepared for what came as the consequence of writing these four pages that he wrote in his book. He talks about this horrific case, and then he concludes by saying, "He leaned over me so that I could hear the clear threat in his tone, 'If you don't keep your mouth shut, I will make sure that you never get the chance to say anything.' "

Meanwhile he goes back to the camp the next year.

Garabedian, with his experience working with victims of pedophile priests, could have told Brown that when one person comes forward, many others follow, and we know that from that case.

And here you have a public and popular official — he seems not to have understood that reporters would be going after this story to find out which camp it was, and it wasn't hard to find a Christian summer camp on Cape Cod, and they confirmed that he was there.

This story that's happening now with DeVita is a full-blown scandal in and of itself. Brown has nothing to do with DeVita, and yet this story brings Brown's back into this, and probably assures still more questions for the future.

With Garabedian on the case and talking about a lawsuit, this case is not going to go away, and may in fact grow in the coming weeks and months.

And now that you have the mother's comments, that her own son was a pedophile two decades ago, and called the camp and talked to the then-owner and continuing owner, you have a full-blown scandal.

This program aired on April 7, 2011.

David Boeri Senior Reporter
Now retired, David Boeri was a senior reporter at WBUR.



More from WBUR

Listen Live