A South Carolina man has filed a lawsuit in Ohio claiming he was sexually abused in the 1980s by Moose International Director General and CEO William Airey.
Airey, 71, of Aurora, has not been charged with any criminal action, although the lawsuit claims he was investigated by Moose officials in 1996 and 2007.
Jason Peck seeks damages for emotional distress for abuse he said occurred during two Moose related functions, one in Ohio, which is where Airey used to live, and the other in New Orleans.
In the lawsuit, Peck's attorney, Konrad Kircher, argues that his client was 12 when he was abused by Airey in 1980. "The reason Jason is coming forward now, the (Penn State) Jerry Sandusky case from a year ago made (Peck) feel an obligation to confront this, protect other children from abuse and increase awareness of other child sexual abuse cases," Kircher said in a phone interview.
Moose International and the Loyal Order of Moose has its offices at Mooseheart Child City and School near Batavia. Neither Mooseheart, nor Moose International is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
A message left for Airey at his office was not immediately returned.
"The Moose fraternity is shocked by this allegation, as this is not the Bill Airey we know," Moose International said in a statement. "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 Child City and School 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 seek to ascertain all facts relating to this situation, and determine what actions, if any, are necessary."
The lawsuit drew a response from the Chicago-based SNAP, or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
"It's very hard for any child sex abuse victim to speak up. It's especially hard when you are the first to accuse a powerful, high profile individual. But we're confident that Jason's' courage will help him heal and will help protect others," read part of a statement issued by SNAP President Barbara Blaine.
Kircher said that since the suit was filed Thursday, two other people have contacted his office claiming they too were abused by Airey.
"I can't evaluate their credibility yet; they made contact by email," Kircher said.
According to the Franklin County, Ohio, court records, both parties are due in court in May 2013 with a tentative trial date set for January 2014.