Boys & Girls Clubs and Sexual Abuse: Larry Adams
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 program administrator at the then-Syracuse Boys Club is accused in four separate lawsuits of sexually abusing or overseeing the abuse of 41 boys at the club more than 40 years ago.
The alleged abuse at the hands of Larry Adams took place in the 1960s and 1970s in the pool, locker rooms, offices and hallways of the East Genesee Street club, according to the lawsuits filed in June and July in Supreme Court in New York under the Child Victims Act against Adams, the local club and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The act has provided a limited window extending statutes of limitations in sexual abuse cases.
One of the four lawsuits is filed on behalf of 38 men who all claim similar abuse during the same time frame. Some of the victims were as young as 8 when the abuse started, the lawsuits indicate.
Many of the young boys were repeatedly touched and obligated to observe, perform and engage in sexual acts at the club with club officials or with each other, according to the lawsuits.
Also named as defendants in one of the lawsuits are Jimmy Bivens, a former lifeguard, and Don Whitman, another club employee. They are accused of abusing one boy each, while Adams is accused of being involved in all of the abuse, according to the lawsuit. Two other men - a former club employee only identified as Ted Doe and a former Catholic priest only identified as Ray Doe - are also mentioned as having been part of the ongoing abuse at the club.
The lawsuit claims Adams and other men had “unrestricted access to children” in the 1970s, that local and Boys & Girls Clubs of America officials ignored the men’s suspicious behavior and that the clubs also intended to shame the victims into silence.
"The acts by the Defendants' employees were open, notorious, ongoing, widespread and flagrant to the extent and degree that the Defendant knew of these complaints or should have known of the same,” one of the lawsuits indicate about the then-Syracuse Boys Club.
Jeffrey Eysaman, executive director of what is now known as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Syracuse, said the club is aware of the recently filed lawsuits and takes any allegation that might impact the well-being of youth entrusted to its care very seriously.
“Although the alleged incidents took place a long time ago, we understand that time does not take away any pain inflicted on victims and their families,” Eysaman said in a statement. “We respect those who have brought forward these extremely serious concerns. Our legal counsel aims to work diligently to have these lawsuits resolved in a manner that provides support and comfort to the victims and their families.”
The club’s commitment to its members, their families and the community is unwavering, he said.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America has said it can’t comment on specific cases, but that safety is its number one priority and that it takes any allegation that impacts the well-being of children very seriously.
Larry Adams, Jimmy Bivens and Don Whitman did not respond to mailed letters seeking comment.