January 1, 2021
By Brian MacQuarrie
After nearly 40 years, a middle-age man with five children remains haunted by the memory of a Boy Scout camping trip to New Hampshire.
Kevin Hannon had been sleeping during a rainy night in 1981, sheltering in a tent near Adams Pond in Barnstead. He woke suddenly to a hand groping his genitals, he recalled recently. Shocked and confused, he did not say a word as the perpetrator withdrew and walked away.
The 14-year-old recognized the man who had touched him, someone Hannon had trusted, a respected member of the West Roxbury neighborhood where they both lived, and the scoutmaster of his troop.
“I was afraid to tell anybody, afraid to be ridiculed, and afraid of how people would think of me,” Hannon said in an interview at his kitchen table. “When I came home from camp, I felt a little lost. I contemplated hurting myself.”
This autumn, Hannon finally came forward with the allegation, becoming one of more than 95,000 people to file sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America before a Nov. 16 deadline set by US Bankruptcy Court. The 110-year-old organization had asked for bankruptcy protection in February as the rising cascade of allegations posed a potentially crippling blow to its finances.
The bankruptcy proceedings, which have paused previous lawsuits, are expected to cause a dramatic restructuring of the Boy Scouts, which has reported more than $1 billion in assets but is beset by dwindling membership and revenues.
Hannon is among 105 former Boy Scouts represented by Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who filed suit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston during the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the church.
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