A week after a sexual abuse lawsuit was filed against the Moose International CEO and Director General William Airey, the organization's board of directors has announced Scott Hart will take his place.
Airey will stay on as a consultant until the end of January 2103 to ease the transition for Hart, who has served as Mooseheart Child City and School executive director and will the 10th Moose International CEO.
Airey does not face any criminal charges. He is being sued in Ohio court by a South Carolina man who says he was sexually abused in 1980 by Airey at least twice when he was 12.
In a statement issued Friday, the Moose International board said the 71-year-old Airey was retiring and Hart, 43, assumed his new duties immediately.
"I know firsthand the outstanding dedication and care that is provided by the men and women of the Moose around the world, especially in regards to children and seniors in need. This is an exciting opportunity to work cooperatively with our board and introduce new ideas that will carry the fraternity forward, build our membership, and allow us to help even more individuals and communities," Hart said in a prepared statement.
Hart said he will assume overall responsibility of Moose International's five units: the Loyal Order of Moose, Women of the Moose, Mooseheart Child City and School near Batavia, Moosehaven Retirement Community and Moose Charities.
In a phone interview Friday, Hart said in coming weeks he would be meeting with stakeholders to get their input and opinions.
"It's difficult in today's society to get people to want to join a fraternal organization. We feel we have a lot to offer," he said. "We really need to get that message out there."
Hart said he had not spoken personally with Airey, but noted it was a difficult decision for Airey to step down and that he didn't want the allegations to be a distraction to Moose International's mission.
Airey could not be reached for comment.
Gary Urweiler, superintendent of education for Mooseheart schools since 2003, will be the Mooseheart Child City and School interim executive director.