Police: Suicide at Mass. camp under new scrutiny

AP News
Posted: Apr 06, 2011 8:06 PM
Police: Suicide at Mass. camp under new scrutiny

A man who killed himself Wednesday had been accused of molesting a boy at a Cape Cod youth camp that's come under scrutiny since it was linked to a childhood sex abuse allegation by U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.

The 43-year-old suicide victim was too young to have any link to the abuse the 51-year-old Brown revealed in his recent memoir. But he was accused of abuse by a man who, spurred by Brown's revelation, came forward this week to say he was molested at the camp more than a decade after Brown was there.

The Camp Good News employee was found dead Wednesday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe and Sandwich police Chief Peter Wack said in a statement. His body was found inside a car parked in woods at the camp in Sandwich, they said.

O'Keefe and Wack also said they would continue to investigate any allegations of abuse at the camp.

Authorities did not release the suicide victim's name. The Cape Cod Times, quoting camp volunteers Bob and Marilyn Werner, identified him as Charles Devita, a longtime camp employee. Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents the victim in the more recent allegation, said that's the name of his client's abuser.

In February, Brown revealed in his book, "Against All Odds," that he'd been molested at a Christian summer camp on Cape Cod in the 1970s. He didn't name the camp and later said he wasn't interested in pursuing charges against his abuser.

At that time, Camp Good News officials confirmed that Brown had attended their camp, and they apologized for anything that happened there.

This week, Garabedian's client stepped forward to say he had been abused at the camp in the mid-1980s by a man working there as a counselor or assistant director.

On Wednesday, the camp released a statement saying it was "deeply saddened by the loss of our long time employee. Our heartfelt prayers are with Chuck's family."

Marilyn Werner said Devita had been associated with the camp since he was a camper there.

"He was talented and dedicated to the camp," she said. "He did just about everything. ... Chuck was really a giving person."

Garabedian has said his client came forward because of the allegations by Brown, a Republican who last year won the seat left open by the death of Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy.

"It's always sad to hear someone has passed away," Garabedian said. "Right now, my client is going through a lot of emotions, and he is dealing with these sad circumstances."

On WRKO-AM on Wednesday, Brown said he's been wrestling with the abuse that happened to him for decades, "as this other individual (who accused Devita), I understand, is wrestling with it and finally came forward."

"If I can help people have the strength to move on and move forward, then I've done my job," he said.