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Abuse victims, kin reach out to Brown

Scott Brown has declined an offer from Cape and Islands District Michael O'Keefe to pursue a criminal investigation into his molestation. Scott Brown has declined an offer from Cape and Islands District Michael O'Keefe to pursue a criminal investigation into his molestation.
By Mark Arsenault and Shelley Murphy
Globe Staff / February 22, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Senator Scott Brown said yesterday that hundreds of victims of sexual abuse or their families have reached out to him in recent days, in response to revelations in his new autobiography that he was molested by a summer camp counselor more than 40 years ago.

“I’ve received hundreds and hundreds of e-mails and phone calls and letters — my sister just texted me and said, ‘I have to let you listen to this voicemail from this man who said he was abused as a kid and how you helped him address the situation,’ ’’ Brown said in an interview. “That’s been very rewarding, to help people like that. Amen.’’

In his book, “Against All Odds,’’ which was released yesterday, the Republican senator from Massachusetts describes a hardscrabble upbringing punctuated by shoplifting sprees and beatings from abusive stepfathers. But the book’s most shocking revelation is Brown’s vivid description of being fondled by an adult male at a camp when he was 10 years old.

Brown did not identify the attacker or the camp in his book, though Camp Good News, a Christian camp in Sandwich, has since confirmed that Brown went there as a child.

In his book, Brown wrote that “I have purposefully erased his [the abuser’s] name from my mind.’’ But during the interview yesterday, Brown insisted that he does remember the name.

Brown has declined an offer from Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe to pursue a criminal investigation into his molestation. Asked yesterday whether he is worried the attacker might still be working around children, Brown said: “I don’t have any facts to suggest that at all. I don’t even know if he’s alive. He’d probably be 70 now.

“I wish I had said something back then, but right now, I’ve moved forward. I have my family and my girls and my job to focus on. . . . I think I’ve said everything I’m going to say on that issue.’’

Brown said he kept the abuse secret from even his closest family, who learned about it from reading the manuscript. He said his daughters now know why he seemed so protective of them around strangers when they were growing up. He said he has also recently discussed the abuse with his parents for the first time.

“We’ve been able to talk these things through,’’ said Brown. “My mom said to me, ‘Was that the summer that you kept calling to come home from camp?’ I said ‘Yup,’ ’’ His mother replied that she felt terrible for what had happened. “I said, ‘Mom, you shouldn’t. We were just so screwed up as a family back then. I’m over it.’ ’’

On Friday, O’Keefe said he was not planning to launch an investigation into Brown’s allegations because the senator did not want to pursue it. But O’Keefe encouraged any victims to contact his office if they wanted to talk about past abuse and whether it was still possible to pursue criminal charges.

Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of sexual abuse victims, said it is highly unlikely that Brown was the counselor’s only victim and there probably were many more who are too fearful or embarrassed to come forward.

“It’s very important to expose child predators,’’ Garabedian said by phone. “Everyone should know who their neighbors are so the children are safe and the sexual abuse ends. Sex predators don’t stop until they either die or get caught.’’

But Garabedian said it was not unusual for victims to wait years to reveal they were sexually abused, and then wait even longer to identify their attackers.

“It’s an incremental process, and when Scott Brown is emotionally ready to take the next step, he’ll take it,’’ Garabedian predicted. “Just as Scott Brown is empowering others and making their world a safer place for children by revealing sexual abuse, [Brown] also has to empower himself and move forward. At the right time and place, hopefully he’ll identify the identity of the sexual predator.’’

To promote the book, Brown is doing a round of TV appearances and a one-week book tour that will include a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as part of the tributes marking what would have been the late president’s 100th birthday, he said. He declined to say yesterday how much he was paid for his book.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at MArsenault@globe.com. Shelly Murphy can be reached at shmurphy@globe.com.