Boys & Girls Clubs and Sexual Abuse: Benjamin Goerke
The following is a summary of one of many cases across the country compiled in a Hearst Connecticut Media investigation of sexual abuse connected in some way to local affiliates of Boys & Girls Club of America, their staff, volunteers, members and/or attendees. Boys & Girls Club of America said that it does not keep a public list of sexual abuse incidents connected to clubs. If you have a story to share, or have information related to this or other incidents, contact us here.
A former employee of multiple California Boys & Girls Clubs was convicted in May 2018 of child endangerment and possession of child pornography.
Benjamin Goerke, 25, who was the director of the now-shuttered Petaluma Boys & Girls Club's after-school program, was arrested in April 2017 after police learned that a child's photo was posted on a known child pornography website, according to Bay City News.
Police traced the IP address of the user who posted the girl's information back to Goerke's home, according to the local news outlet.
At the time of the incident, Goerke was program manager of the after-school program the girl in the photograph had attended and worked at other Boys & Girls Clubs in Petaluma, according to Bay City News.
The Petaluma Boys & Girls Club itself no longer exists. However, new affiliates are run in Petaluma by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma-Marin, said the CEO of that organization, Jennifer Weiss.
Weiss declined to comment on the case specifically, but noted the organization is important to many children and works hard to ensure their safety.
Before he was convicted, Goerke admitted to taking non-pornographic photographs of the girl on his cellphone and accessing her personal information through the Boys & Girls Club's network, police told the Bay City News.
Goerke pleaded no contest to both charges in May 2018. He was sentenced in October 2018 to 180 days in jail with 33 days of credit for time served. He is on probation until October 2022, according to a Sonoma County Court clerk.
While on probation, he must attend counseling and sex offender treatment, stay away from the victim and her home, cannot possess controlled substances or weapons, not have contact with anyone under 18 unless in the presence of another adult, must stay at least 1,000 feet away from schools and not visit any location where children congregate without prior approval of his probation officer, court records show.