Camp Good News -- the Cape Cod summer camp at the center of a sexual abuse scandal -- has just lost its accreditation with the American Camp Association. This latest news comes on the heels of new sexual abuse allegations by former campers.
Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association which has accredited 2,400 summer camps across the United States said," We have removed the accreditation. Once the investigative process has been completed, the camp may request reinstatement. The safety of the children is paramount."
A total of five men and one woman have now come forward with stories of being sexually abused while at the camp. On Wednesday, a former long-time maintenance worker at the camp, Charles Devita, shot himself in the head on camp property. Devita was reportedly the target of some of those sexual abuse allegations.
That summer camp is widely believed to be Camp Good News. Brown said the abuse happened more than once when he was at summer camper and that his abuser threatened to kill him if he told anyone. Brown has also said he is not interested in pursuing any charges against his alleged abuser or the camp. Officials for Camp Good News confirmed Brown was a camper there and issued a letter of apology to the senator.
Camp Loses Accreditation While Investigation Mounts
The camp has been accredited with the American Camping Association since 1959. According to ACA officials, there have been no past complaints about the camp. It was last inspected in 2009. On Thursday, the American Camp Association called camp officials.
According to Smith, in order to receive the ACA stamp of approval a summer camp must go through an independent audit of 300 health and safety standards, including a verification of the camp's policies regarding the hiring and firing of staff, background checks and checks with the National Sex Offender Registry.
Losing accreditation is almost unheard of, said Smith. "I have been here 10 years and have not taken this action before."
As for the more recent sexual abuse allegations, the Barnstable County District Attorney's office had promised to look into the charges, although the death of Devita puts any investigation in doubt. But the former campers could still seek civil damages against the camp. Boston-based Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said he has been contacted by at least three former campers and is "weighing all options."
Camp Good News has been a fixture in the Cape Cod community of Sandwich, Mass., for more than 50 years.
Today, the website for Camp Good News still shows pictures of happy campers swimming and playing in the sun. The promotional material calls Camp Good News a "state of the art summer camp program accredited by the American Camp Association. Camp Good News is open to children and staff from all walks of life and around the world." The summer program this year is due to start on June 27.