CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — “This helps me,” said Randy Courtemanche, who feels most comfortable at the horse stable where he volunteers in Rhode Island.
“I get emotional; I’m sorry,” Courtemanche apologized.
Working with the horses helps take his mind off the abuse he suffered at the hands of former Troop 66 Boy Scout leader David Kress in Thompson.
He has pleaded guilty in both Massachusetts and Connecticut for sexually assaulting several of his scouts.
“The first time it happened to me…I woke up and didn’t know what was going on,” said Courtemanche. “He was in my sleeping bag. Hands in my sleeping bag and it was horrible. Scared, scared, scared.”
He was just 11-years-old.
He said Kress, who threatened to kill his family to keep him quiet, gave the scouts beer and later pornography.
Courtemanche said one time he was being raped in the shower at Nichols College where Kress was a security guard and another scout leader, who also worked at the Massachusetts school, walked in.
“And I thought to myself, ‘Oh great, thank God it’s over,'” said Courtemanche.
But it wasn’t. He said Kress claimed to be checking him for bruises.
“I’m pretty sure I had tears in my eyes at the time,” said Courtemanche.
He is now among the many victims who are suing Boy Scouts of America, which has just filed bankruptcy.
“It will bring closure faster but it also puts a cap on what they’re going to give out to people,” said Courtemanche. “Which to me really doesn’t matter but it’s still them just trying to protect themselves.”
Boys Scouts of America has said it has put safety measures in place to protect future children and will pay for counseling for victims, but Courtemanche said the organization has never reached out to him.
After years of masking his pain with alcohol and drugs, he is now telling his story to encourage others to seek help.
“Come forward; tell people your story because it heals,” said Courtemanche.
And so does working with the horses. Still he struggles every day.
“They’re not handling this like an organization that builds future leaders of America,” said Courtemanche. “Come on now.”
When the court cases are over Courtemanche said he just wants to move away to the mountains and maybe open a stable of his own. If he does that he’d like to invite other survivors so they can also get the therapeutic benefits that he has gotten from the horses.
Boy Scouts of America (BSA) provided News 8 with the following statement:
“We are shocked and saddened by Mr. Kress’s behavior, which is reprehensible and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) stands. Upon learning of these reports in 2014, we took immediate action to remove Mr. Kress from Scouting and prohibit him from any future participation in our programs.
We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our program to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward. It is BSA policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement.
The Boy Scouts of America is committed to fulfilling our social and moral responsibility to equitably compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting, while also ensuring that we carry out our mission to serve youth, families and local communities through our programs. We firmly support efforts to ensure that anyone who commits sexual abuse is held accountable. Accordingly, we support the elimination of criminal statutes of limitations for sexual abuse. We also believe it is imperative that convicted abusers serve their full criminal sentences and comply with any post-release requirements to protect children and reduce recidivism.
Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs – it is our top priority. The BSA has a multi-layered process of safeguards informed by experts, including the following, all of which act as barriers to abuse: a leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times and bans one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children – either in person, online, or via text; a thorough screening process for adult leaders and staff including criminal background checks, and the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse.
The BSA also offers a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1) and email contact address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for help reporting suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior and for assistance accessing in-person counseling.
In addition, the BSA has partnered with 1in6, a trusted national resource for male survivors, to meaningfully expand its online services so that more men who suffered abuse while in Scouting can access vital, anonymous support from trained advocates when and how they need it. Victims can access these services at www.1in6.org/BSA.
For more information about the BSA’s youth protection policies, our commitment to supporting victims, and our efforts to be part of the broader solution to child abuse, please visit: www.scouting.org/youth-safety.”
This second statement was also provided.
“We steadfastly believe that one incident of abuse is one too many, which is precisely why we continually improve all of our policies. In addition, we fully support and advocate for universal measures including the development and utilization of a national database, under the auspices of a federal entity, that all youth-serving organizations could contribute to and utilize to screen volunteers. Our goal is for schools, athletic clubs, faith-based youth groups, Scouting and other organizations to use a common database so that individuals removed from any one institution could not join another down the street, in a different state, or across the country. We call upon Congress and other youth-serving organizations to support this initiative.
The BSA is steadfastly committed to supporting victims of abuse in Scouting. Our Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1) is available 24/7 for victims and members of their family to request funding for in-person counseling by a provider of their choice. No proof is required; a victim need only make a request.
The BSA recognized that not all victims are ready to seek in-person counseling and recently initiated a partnership with 1in6, a trusted national resource for male survivors, to expand their services so that victims are able to anonymously access vital support from trained advocates when and how they need it. This is a multi-year commitment, which we feel is an important component of the support we provide for victims. 1in6’s services are independent of the BSA, anonymous and free to the user. Information shared through these services will be kept strictly confidential by 1in6. To learn more or to access these services, visit www.1in6.org/BSA.
On February 18, 2020, the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to achieve two key objectives: equitably compensate victims who were harmed during their time in Scouting and continue carrying out its mission for years to come. The BSA intends to use the Chapter 11 process to create a Victims Compensation Trust that would provide equitable compensation to victims. In an Open Letter to Victims from the BSA’s National Chair Jim Turley, we encouraged all victims to come forward and file claims so they can receive compensation. We will provide clear notices about how to do so.
To help create awareness for the support available to victims, we published the Open Letter to Victims on our dedicated page for victims on our restructuring website. The Open Letter was also published in USA TODAY’s print edition on February 19, 2020.”