Those attending Tuesday's Foxborough Board of Selectmen meeting witnessed a true act of courage when one of William E. Sheehan's alleged victims came forward to speak against the former Foxborough youth leader and thank the town for vowing to “turn over every stone and file cabinet” in search of the truth.
Dave Lutkus had no intention of releasing his identity to the public but after learning media outlets could not publish anonymous Letters to the Editor, he traveled to Foxborough to deliver his message in person to selectmen Tuesday.
"I ask people to please respect the privacy of my family and friends as they are hearing this for the first time," Lutkus said during the citizen's input portion of Tuesday's selectmen meeting.
Lutkus, speaking publicly about Sheehan for the first time, read to selectmen a letter he wrote, which began as a public thank you to the board and Rev. Bill Dudley, pastor of Union Church of South Foxborough for vowing to bring to light the issues involving the alleged child molester.
"I am a survivor of [Sheehan’s] acts," Lutkus began. ... "This is the first time that I’ve actually had hope that something would be done in regards to this case."
Lutkus said he has spoken to the District Attorney's Office, the Massachusetts State Police and their referred legal counselor about allegations that Sheehan sexually abused young boys for nearly 20 years while residing in Foxborough as a school teacher, scout leader and director at Cocasset River Park.
"I told each of them my story over the phone," Lutkus said. "I was told Sheehan is ill and he wouldn’t be charged. I asked to please be updated … I haven’t heard from anyone … I was told there was no need to file a statement report."
Lutkus was unsatisfied with these conversations and began to doubt whether the truth about Sheehan would ever come to light.
"My summary of every conversation was 'thanks for letting us know; you were number X; sorry you had to go through this,'" Lutkus recalled.
But the message from Foxborough Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis to Sheehan's alleged victims during the Dec. 4 BOS meeting restored Lutkus' hope for answers.
"Thank you Mr. [Mark] Sullivan and Mr. [James] DeVellis for your actions," Lutkus said. "I finally feel as though someone has heard us and I appreciate and applaud your efforts. Pastor Bill, I may or may not contact you. In any case, thank you as well."
Lutkus extended his heartfelt thanks to the remainder of the board and asked the town to get to the bottom of this issue so "the facts come to light" and something so horrific never happens to Foxborough's youth ever again.
"I would like to thank the board on what they have done in this matter," Lutkus said. "As one of the victims, I am here to ask this issue is thoroughly investigated. My feeling is 35 years ago this issue was buried. I would like to see the facts come to light so it won’t happen in this town ever again."
DeVellis assured Lutkus the town will do everything in its power to find the answers and reveal the truth behind these allegations.
"It was very brave for you to come here tonight and the first thing I’d like to say is I apologize and hope things come out in the open and you get the answers and you get the direction from whatever comes out of this," DeVellis said to Lutkus Tuesday. "I don’t think anyone on this board was of the age at that time but certainly I think it is our responsibility now to reach back and try and figure out what the hell happened so it doesn’t happen again and make it so you feel comfortable and don’t walk away thinking you’re not going to get any of those answers.
"We are on top of this as much as we can and we are pushing this as much as we can."
Prior to Tuesday's meeting, selectmen met in executive session with Foxborough Police Chief Edward O'Leary, Town Counsel Richard Gelerman and Town Manager Kevin Paicos to discuss the investigation against Sheehan.
"We can’t share the details but the sense of the board is nobody here is circling the wagons and trying to protect anybody or anything from the past," DeVellis told Lutkus Tuesday. "We are being proactive as is the police chief as is our local counsel as is the town manager."
Sullivan commended Lutkus coming forward, choosing two words to describe the man's actions.
"Extreme courage," Sullivan said to Lutkus. "I applaud you for coming forward."
'The Twinkle in His Eye Made Me Sick'
Lutkus chose not to go into detail about his encounters with Sheehan but did provide some insight in to what it was like knowing Sheehan 35 years ago.
"I read a story [about Sheehan] that had a line, 'we all knew he was a perv ... we just stayed away from him,'" Lutkus recalled.
"The fact is we all didn’t [know Sheehan was a perv]," Lutkus said. "We all were not as fortunate. That statement to me was offensive."
For Lutkus, he remembers seeing "the big kids" getting one-on-one time with Sheehan the teacher, Scout Master or boss at the Cocasset River Park.
"I desperately wanted to be a big kid so I could be one of them," Lutkus said. "And I did. I became a scout, got a job at the park and received a citizenship award in junior high."
Lutkus said he never understood why he received that award but "always felt like Sheehan [had] influenced it."
"The twinkle in his eye after receiving that plaque made me sick," Lutkus said.
'It Doesn't Change the Fact that it Happened'
Since seeing allegations against Sheehan surface in the media in September, Lutkus said he's beginning to learn that he's spent a long time burying what happened between him and Sheehan and is "not happy it has risen again."
"I refuse to go into the details, I will only say that for weeks now I have been dealt with guilty memories of not knowing how to tell an adult; the feeling that I’ve done something wrong and assuming but not knowing if there are more victims because I didn’t tell," Lutkus said. "I can be told it’s not my fault and that I was young but it doesn’t change the fact that it happened and it is in my past."
Allegations Against Sheehan
_Allegations against Sheehan became public in September when Foxborough police obtained a warrant from Wrentham District Court_ for the former Foxborough teacher and youth leader’s arrest on 11 felony charges related to sexual assault on children under the age of 15 from 1978-1981.
Sheehan, now 74, taught in the Foxborough Public Schools district from the late 1960s to 1981, served 19 years as a local Boy Scouts Scoutmaster and 20 years in numerous roles at Cocasset River Park, including a swimming instructor and waterfront director. During that time he resided at 81 Willow St.
Sheehan left Foxborough in 1981 to take a teaching position in Southwest Florida, where he is being accused of molesting at least one child at Camp Miles, a Boy Scout camp in Punta Gorda, Fla. during three consecutive summers in the 1980s, according to a Nov. 5 article in The News-Press of Fort Myers, Fla.
Sheehan was never arrested for the allegations in Massachusetts or Florida and now it may be too late, according to The News-Press as the 74-year-old is currently suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s and resides in a Fort Myers, Fla. nursing home.
In Foxborough, three alleged victims initially came forward – separately – to police in August accusing Sheehan of multiple sexual crimes committed against each of them. After Foxborough police obtained a warrant for Sheehan’s arrest on Sept. 12, officers traveled to Fort Myers, Fla. to arrest the former Foxborough resident. However, upon arrival to Sheehan’s residence in Florida, police were not able to arrest him, citing poor health.
Foxborough police and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office maintain the investigation against Sheehan remains open but police fear, due to Sheehan’s health, that he may never be prosecuted.
Since allegations against Sheehan surfaced in August, 23 men have courageously come forward claiming the former resident sexually abused them in Foxborough.
To read more on the allegations against Sheehan, click the following articles:
- UPDATE: Former Foxborough Teacher Accused of Sex Abuse Reportedly Suffering from Alzheimer's (Foxborough Patch)
- Former Foxborough Teacher Accused of Sexual Assault on Multiple Children (Foxborough Patch)
- New abuse allegation surfaces for former Lee County teacher (The News-Press of Fort Myers)
- Man too sick to arrest (The News-Press of Fort Myers)
- Longtime Foxborough teacher and Scout leader left legacy of lives broken by sex abuse (The Boston Globe)
- Nearly five decades later, an alleged victim speaks out against Sheehan (The Boston Globe)
- Tracking William Sheehan through the years (The Boston Globe)