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New Committee Looks to Prevent Repeat of Sheehan Abuses

Over a year after the abuses inflicted by William Sheehan came to light, a new committee in Foxboro has been approved to make sure similar cases do not fall though the cracks.

Approved recently by the selectmen, the Foxboro Child Safety Committee will come up with a code of conduct and training for local organizations and a protocol of reporting for the community to follow.

The effort has been spearheaded by Selectman Jim DeVellis who has taken the lead on the issue of child abuse and neglect.

“This is probably one of the more important things I’ve been trying to accomplish on the board since I’ve been here,” DeVellis said.

The committee will include members of all different groups in town including public schools, recreation, public safety, religious institutions, town staff, residents, and private educational institutions.

The inclusion of multiple parts of the community was due to Sheehan’s involvement around town including as a teacher, athletics coach, and as a recreation director.

“There’s allegations of child molestations though the different sectors of town he was involved in. The one question that came from the victims is how did this go long and no one said anything and how did this go on and it didn’t come into the light,” DeVellis said.

Interest is high in the committee as evident by a recent seminar where DeVellis, Superintendent Debra Spinelli, Police Chief Ed O’Leary, and former selectman Lynda Walsh all attended with minimal organizing or planning.

“It wasn’t something that was coordinated but we were the only town that was well represented,” DeVellis said.

By Dec. 31, 2014, the committee will present a report to the selectmen with their goals and objectives to be approved as a warrant article as a future town meeting.

Any policy that exists such as mandated reporters and any policy from the state will remain in place. 

Currently, no town in Massachusetts has a policy that Foxboro is trying to create, making the future work of the committee possibly the first of it’s kind for a local town in the state.

“If we get though this year and come up with this program, I think it’s something that other towns would be willing to listen to,” DeVellis said.

Dennis Naughton December 09, 2013 at 11:37 AM
This is fine. However what is being covered up or ignored in all of this is that the Sheehan business was known in the 90's when he was perfectly healthy. Publicity, investigation and prosecution just did not happen.
Steve December 09, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Didn't I read, a while back, that FPD bought the allegations to the DA's office and it was there decision not to pursue?
Dennis Naughton December 09, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Not clear on the time frame you refer to Steve. Sheehan was reportedly active in Foxborough in 60's and 70's and "left town" in '81. Given the wide-spread nature of his alleged offenses against children, it is hard to imagine that no one took action. The question is was Sheehan encouraged to get out of town to avoid prosecution.
Dennis Naughton December 09, 2013 at 05:58 PM
See Nov 21, 2012 Foxborough Reporter article by Frank Mortimer. Former scout leader Jimmy Anderson (a great scout leader himself) talks about "a wall of silence" in town around Sheehan when he had concerns about what was going on in Troop 70.
Steve December 10, 2013 at 08:27 AM
"In Massachusetts, the first allegation against Sheehan, who turned 74 on Nov. 19, was disclosed to Foxborough police in 1998, but at the time officials said the statute of limitations " This was from the Globe. I think at the time the they could not press charges because of the statute, the law has since been changed. If there was ANY cover up or wrong doing by any authorities back then this should be made public. I have heard "rumors" about missing files and such, if there is any evidence of wrong doing it should be made public.

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