Whitman Man Speaks out about Sexual Abuse by Real Estate Guru
By Neal Simpson
September 6, 2018
A Whitman man is speaking out for the first time about the years of sexual abuse he says he endured as a child at the hands of a man who is now a celebrity real estate guru and author of a Trump University book.
Finlay S. Walsh, now 43, called a press conference Thursday morning to describe how David Lindahl, the owner of a Rockland-based real estate education company, abused him for years as a child and left him with a lifetime of trauma.
Walsh’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, said Lindahl served only 10 months of a 10-year sentence for the abuse and just last year paid Walsh $812,000 as part of a settlement agreement.
“I don’t think anybody can heal what I’ve gone through, but I want the truth to come out,” Walsh told reporters as he stood beside Garabedian, who is best known for representing victims of clergy sexual abuse.
Lindahl’s attorney, James Budreau, declined to comment Thursday. Calls to Lindahl’s real estate education company, RE Mentor, were not returned.
Lindahl started RE Mentor, which is hosting a three-day networking event in Boston starting today, in 2002 and claims on its website to have bought and sold more than 8,200 real estate units, calling himself “North America’s Leading Authority on Entrepreneurial Success.”
In addition to NBC, CBS, Fox News and ABC, he has written three books on real estate and says that now-President Donald Trump personally asked him to co-author a book for Trump University, a now-defunct for-profit education company.
Walsh, who broke down repeatedly during the press conference Thursday morning, told reporters that he got to know Lindahl more than 30 years ago because Lindahl was friends with Walsh’s older sister when they were growing up in Abington.
He said the sexual abuse started when he was 7 or 8 years old and continued for years, with assaults occurring in both their homes, in Lindahl’s car and in the locker room of a community college where they played basketball.
“Just all the time,” he said. “Whenever he could get the opportunity.”
Finally, when he was about 13, Walsh said he told his mother, who told police. Lindahl pleaded guilty in 1991 to rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, earning him a 10-year sentence, according to records on file in Plymouth Superior Court in Brockton.
But long before that sentence would have been up, Walsh was at the cemetery where his father was buried when he saw Lindahl walk by, a free man.
“It was unbelievable that someone who does that to someone can get out of jail that early,” he said. “I feel like he has never, ever paid for what he has done to me.”
Garabedian said Lindahl had been released after serving 10 months under what was then known as a Concord sentence, which allowed inmates to be released early and spend most of their sentence on parole instead of behind bars. The practice was prohibited in 1993, years after Lindalh’s conviction, under the state’s truth-in-sentencing law.
Lindahl, now 55, was himself a victim of childhood sexual abuse, according to an affidavit he wrote in 1991 seeking a reconsideration of his sentence. In the affidavit, he said various people in his life had abused him from the time he was 6 until he was in college, where he became a loner who avoided social situations and never went to parties, in part out of shame over his abuse. He said Walsh’s family had taken him in and treated him as an “adopted son.”
In the affidavit, Lindahl said he was “truly sorry” for what he did to Walsh and wrote about the “lasting affect” on Walsh’s future. He said he hoped Walsh would continue to seek therapy.
“I feel that if therapy was available to me after I ended my relationship with (some of his abusers), I would have avoided becoming a perpetrator,” he wrote.
Garabedian said Walsh approached him two years ago about seeking compensation for the years of trauma Lindhal had caused him, which led to an $812,000 settlement with Lindahl. He said the agreement did not include a confidentiality clause.
“Mr. Walsh was adamant that he would not sign a confidentiality,” Garabedian said.
Despite the agreement, Walsh said he has continued to be haunted by Lindahl’s fame, knowing that while Walsh continued suffering from the trauma of what Lindahl had done to him, his abuser was being celebrated as a real estate guru by people who know nothing about his history. He said he also fears that Lindahl may have other victims and hopes to make it easier for them to speak out.
“This guy is all over the country doing his seminars, pretending he’s a great guy, and people need to know the truth about him,” Walsh said.
Lindahl, who now lives in Hingham, has also come under scrutiny for his business practices. Last month, the Secretary of State’s Office filed an administrative complaint charging Lindahl with negligent mismanaging of a real estate investment fund and allowing more than $1.5 million to be stolen from clients over the last nine years. The office says Lindahl’s partner embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars out of a fund that Lindahl was supposed to be managing on behalf of more than 30 investors, many of them elderly.
The state Division of Professional Licensure is also looking into Lindahl, and last week requested certified copies of all records related to his 1991 child rape conviction. Lindahl’s real estate broker’s license expired in 2014.
Lindahl’s company is hosting a three-day “Ultimate Partnering” event starting today headlined by “Sugar” Ray Leonard, a professional boxer turned motivational speaker. Leonard has himself written about being the victim of sexual abuse as a child.