Sex abuse lawsuit brought against Moose CEO
By Jenette Sturges firstname.lastname@example.org December 13, 2012 12:34PM
William B. Airey
Updated: January 15, 2013 11:30AM
A South Carolina-based doctor announced Thursday allegations of childhood sexual abuse and a lawsuit against the head of Moose International.
In a civil suit filed Thursday, Jason Peck, now a 44-year-old physician in Fort Hill, S.C., alleges that William B. Airey sexually abused him as a child.
Airey is director general and CEO of the Loyal Order of the Moose and Moose International, which is headquartered on the Mooseheart campus on Route 31 north of North Aurora. The lawsuit does not make any allegations related to Mooseheart.
According to the suit, in 1980, when Peck was 12-years-old, Airey began “grooming” Peck and sexually abused him on two occasions when Peck was a minor living in Ohio. The suit alleges that on both occasions, the abuse happened when Airey took Peck to Moose-related functions.
“When he (Peck) was a child William Airey was his neighbor and befriended him in the Columbus (Ohio) suburbs,” said Konrad Kircher, attorney for Peck. “He would give him gifts, take him to the Moose Lodge in Whitehall (Ohio), and buy him alcoholic drinks, then sexually abuse him in the Columbus area.”
At the time of the alleged abuse, Airey was a Moose member and volunteer. He was hired by Moose International in 1983, and has served at the organization’s CEO since 2006, according to the suit.
Peck was never a student at Mooseheart, nor otherwise associated with the Moose organization.
On Thursday, members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, delivered a letter to Moose International headquarters, urging that Airey be suspended, and requesting a criminal investigation.
The suit and a press release from SNAP allege that Moose International has investigated Airey twice before, in 1996 and again in 2007, for child sexual abuse, but took no action.
“Our main concern is that the Moose suspend Mr. Airey while the investigation continues,” said SNAP member Kate Bochte, in a press conference held in the parking lot of the Aurora Moose Lodge Thursday afternoon. “Organizations should not be covering up for their leaders and should not do their own internal investigations. This is a criminal matter.”
Airey could not be reached for comment Thursday, but Moose International released a statement saying, “The Moose fraternity is shocked by this allegation.”
“This is not the Bill Airey we know,” the Moose International statement says. “Although the Moose organization is not a party to this lawsuit, consistent with Board policy Mr. Airey will not be in contact with residential students at Mooseheart until further notice.
“At this time Mr. Airey is out of the office, celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife. Upon his return, the Board will ascertain all facts relating to this situation, and determine what actions, if any, are necessary.”