According to The Boston Globe, a seasoned Foxborough police officer has now been assigned a full-time role, tasked with unraveling the town’s history. This investigation aims to comprehend how a former town teacher and Boy Scout leader could commit sexual offenses against numerous minors over decades.
Since last September, 28 men have bravely stepped forward to accuse William E. Sheehan, aged 74, of heinous acts of rape and sexual exploitation. These incidents allegedly date back to 1961, when Sheehan started teaching, and continued until 1981 when he relocated to Florida for work. A small group of these men claim they reported this abuse to Foxborough police as early as 1998.
A Town in Tears: Public Recounting of Experiences
These survivors shared their stories at a recent emotional Foxborough Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday night. As they recounted their experiences, the audience openly wept.
Town Leaders Respond
James DeVellis, the chairman of the selectmen, expressed his certainty and disgust about the incidents: “There is no doubt in my mind that it happened… and it turns my stomach.” He suggested that those who may have turned a blind eye to the incidents did so to avoid embarrassing the town or their friends, admitting that this would have been “an incredible misstep”.
Foxborough Police Detective Thomas Kirrane is leading the investigation. After a heartfelt request from the accusers at the Tuesday meeting, the selectmen agreed to enlist an external assistant for Kirrane if necessary, to sidestep possible conflicts, as some town police officers and their relatives had connections with Sheehan’s former Boy Scout Troop 70.
Survivors Share Their Stories
During the meeting, Kevin Corliss, a long-time school maintenance worker, was comforted by members of a survivors group as he shared his harrowing experience of abuse that began at the age of 8, in Sheehan’s class at the former Lewis School, and continued at Boy Scout gatherings and a summer swim program.
Present Status of the Accused
Currently, Sheehan resides in an undisclosed nursing home in Fort Myers, Florida, suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease. His ill health prevents him from being arrested despite the multiple felony charges Foxborough police have filed against him.
Survivors Demand Justice
The Rev. Bill Dudley, the de facto leader of the group “Survivors of Bill Sheehan”, presented a list of demands during the Tuesday meeting. These included the appointment of an independent investigator and the release of police and prosecutorial records from the period around 2001, to understand why the case was not pursued then.
A Town’s Responsibility
According to The Globe, both Corliss and others, including Dave Lutkus, 47, who now resides out of state, feel the town holds a responsibility towards the survivors and their families, having previously turned a “blind eye” to the welfare of its young citizens.