Survivor reveals 4 summers of abuse at Charlotte County Boy Scout camp
A man said a camp counselor in Charlotte County sexually abused him when he was 15-years-old. The incident took place 30-years ago. His retelling might explain why so many victims never get past the trauma or get help.
The victim of the abuse, Aaron Averhart, said it took place during four consecutive summers between 1986 to 1989. The Boy Scouts of America Charlotte County camp counselor, William Sheehan, whom many called Uncle Bill, was a popular member. Like any boy, the victim wanted to believe the abusive behavior would cease. But it was two weeks into the second summer when the counselor “started to rape me.” The victim was 13-years-old that summer. “And it just got progressively worse from there.”
The accused predator, Sheehan, is now dead. Sheehan is accused of molesting children in Massachusets but was never arrested. In the third and fourth summers, “he had started to choke me,” the victim said. Sheehan would dunk him into the waterfront to the point where the victim thought he would not return to the surface alive. When Sheehan choked him, “sometimes to the point before unconsciousness,” he said, “sometimes fully unconscious.” The horrid behavior led the victim to consider cutting his wrist while at the camp.
So far in Southwest Florida, only Averhart has come forward. He finally, at 15-years-old, had the courage to tell someone. The person took him straight to the camp director, Keith Briggs. Briggs told WINK News that the victim informed him the suspect was going to his tent, “putting a pillow over my face” until the point of passing out. That the suspect has “been molesting me.”
Briggs called the cops and the Boy Scouts. But Averhart said, his interview with deputies did not help a all. He said before they asked what happened, there was a vocabulary lesson. The traumatic experience started with one of the detectives, grilling Averhart about 15 minutes before the interview started about the word, “perjury,” and if the victim knew what it meant.
“If I knew that what I was saying wasn’t going to perjure myself,” Averhart said. “I was under the impression that anything I said that couldn’t be proven would be held against me as a legal charge.”
So Averhart did not say much in the interview and not much happened. Sheehan lost his teaching certificate and his job at San Carlos Park Elementary. But the suspect was never arrested. Averhart said Briggs was the only one who did the right thing. But Briggs was transferred away and told us that he could never find out about what happened to Averhart. Right now, Advehart suffers from Post-traumatic stress disorder. His marriage is breaking up. He said it is all because of this.
“Did anybody ever care what happened to you?” said Chris Cifatte, WINK News evening anchor.
“Never heard a peep about it from the boy scouts,” Averhart said. “And still, to this point, they refuse to discuss anything with me.”
But, Averhart now knows he is not alone. He said he has been in contact with one survivor from his scout troop. That victim asked to remain anonymous. Now, as an adult, he has a message for other victims, which is people do care.
“The support has been overwhelming and amazing,” Averhart said. “More than I could anticipate.”
Another victim has formed a survivor’s network. The number to contact is (508) 479-8352.