Monday, December 5, 2011
More Red Sox abuse accusations
BOSTON -- A man who worked as a teenager in the Red Sox clubhouse with big-name players such as Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs said his "dream job" ended abruptly when the clubhouse manager sexually assaulted him.
Charles Crawford and another Massachusetts man are now accusing Donald Fitzpatrick, who died in 2005, of abusing them in the early 1990s. The statute of limitations has expired for filing lawsuits, but the men are seeking $5 million settlements from the team.
During a news conference Monday, Crawford said Fitzpatrick assaulted him twice inside the clubhouse at Fenway Park -- once in an equipment room and once in a restroom. He was 16 at the time.
"People need to know what happened," said Crawford, who agreed to have his name used. "It's still mind-boggling to me."
Fitzpatrick had been accused of sexually abusing children earlier. In 2002, he pleaded guilty in Florida to attempted sexual battery on a child under 12. The team also settled a lawsuit with seven Florida men who said Fitzpatrick molested them during spring training beginning in the 1970s.
Crawford said he decided to come forward now after U.S. Sen. Scott Brown's revelation earlier this year that he was molested by a counselor at a summer camp when he was 10 and the more recent sexual abuse allegations made against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Crawford's lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said the newest allegations are believed to be the first time that Fitzpatrick has been accused of molesting boys at Fenway. The new allegations were first reported by The Boston Globe.
Garabedian said he sent the Red Sox a letter last month informing them of the new allegations and asking for the settlements.
Red Sox attorney Daniel Goldberg did not immediately return two calls seeking comment Monday, but in a statement he said the Red Sox "have always viewed the actions of Mr. Fitzpatrick to be abhorrent."
"When the team, then under a previous ownership group, became aware of the allegations against Mr. Fitzpatrick in 1991, he was promptly relieved of his duties," Goldberg said. He said the club does not have any specifics on the two recent allegations.
Crawford said he was thrilled when he got a job as a clubhouse attendant, running errands for the players, getting them food and cleaning up around the clubhouse.
"It was a dream job for me," he said. "It was the best job in the world for a kid."
Then one day, he asked for a baseball and Fitzpatrick led him to the equipment room, which was a locked room away from anyone else in the clubhouse, Crawford said.
"Everything happened fast. ... I couldn't tell anybody," he said.
Garabedian said Crawford has had trouble holding jobs, served a short stint in jail for a drug conviction and fathered five children with five women.
"I've been running from a lot of things," Crawford said.
Crawford, now 36, said he never told anyone about what happened until 2006, when he revealed the abuse to his mother. He said he hoped coming forward now would help other abuse victims who might have suffered in silence for years, as he did.
Garabedian, who represented hundreds of victims during the Boston clergy sex-abuse scandal, said the team's lawyers have asked to meet with his clients.
"Baseball is not more important than protecting the lives of innocent children against predators," he said.
The second man now coming forward asked not to be identified. Garabedian said he is an educator and is married with children.
The man, who worked as a bat boy in 1991, was traveling with the Red Sox in Anaheim, Calif., when another clubhouse attendant held a sign during a televised game that said, "Donald Fitzpatrick sexually assaulted me."
At the time, team officials said that Fitzpatrick decided to take an indefinite leave of absence. He never returned.
In a phone interview Monday, the man said Fitzpatrick fondled and groped him at least a half dozen times.
He said he remembers some of the Red Sox players joking sarcastically about Fitzpatrick.
"They would say, `Did Fitzy touch your arm or did he touch your leg?' and then laugh," the man said. "I think they were joking because they sensed something was odd, and I think they knew he was strange."
Crawford said he would like to meet with the team owners and get an apology.