Sonoma Boys & Girls Club sued over sex abuse case

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Lawyers for four teens and young men who allege they were molested by a now-convicted pedophile working for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley have filed suit against the organization, saying officials failed to protect them and repeatedly overlooked “red flags” about his conduct with boys as young as 6.

From frequently putting his hands on young clients to regularly taking them on overnight outings and requiring them to disrobe in his presence, Paul Dwayne Kilgore, now 71, provided “clear and obvious signs” of inappropriate sexual relationships, the suit claims.

But even as club officials acknowledged concerns about Kilgore’s behavior over the years and internally discussed imposing boundaries on him, they repeatedly failed to follow through or take appropriate steps to determine what he was doing with the children, according to the Nov.  30 lawsuit filed by Taylor & Ring, a Los Angeles-based law firm.

When Kilgore missed every question on the club’s “Sexual Harassment Test” in 2006, he received no feedback or training, the lawsuit states.

Club officials also ignored reports like one in 2007 from a fifth-grade boy who objected that he and others were required to strip in a public pool locker in front of Kilgore and each other while he commented about their private parts, the suit says. Kilgore, the club’s athletic director, also was naked at the time. The same child renewed his complaint in 2010, reminding the staff that he and some other boys referred to Kilgore as “the abuser” because of this incident.

The suit says Boys & Girls Club staffers failed in their role as “mandatory reporters” of child abuse and were negligent in their supervision of children entrusted to their care. It claimed the organization “turned a blind-eye” when Kilgore left the Sonoma Valley club under pressure and went to work at a sister organization in Petaluma, where it alleges he continued to abuse two of his Sonoma Valley victims.

“The outrageous part of the case is that this Boys and Girls Club knew back in the early 2000s that they had problems with this guy, and every step of the way, they just ignored it — blew it off, pretended like it wasn’t an issue,” lead attorney David Ring said in an interview Tuesday. “And then they started internally realizing they had a problem, and then they still didn’t tell the parents about it and they forced him to resign, and he just jumped over to the neighboring Boys & Girls Club.”

Cary Leigh Dacy, current president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sonoma Valley, issued a statement saying her “organization cooperated fully with authorities throughout the investigation and judicial process that led to this conviction, and we will continue to do so in any future proceedings.”

“The safety and protection of the children we serve remains the number one priority of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley. Our organization is committed to the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior and does not tolerate inappropriate or illegal activity on the part of any Club staff, volunteer or youth member. All employees and volunteers must undergo a thorough criminal background check,” the statement said.

Ring’s clients, now 14, 16, 19 and 22, were agesd 6 to 10 when their molestation began by a man they knew as their coach and mentor through the nonprofit club for disadvantaged young people, the suit said.

Two of them were the subject of criminal charges that sent Kilgore to prison earlier this year. One other testified for the prosecution, as well, while the fourth was not included in the case, though his experiences were corroborated by law enforcement investigators, Ring said.

“They’re all struggling with what happened in various ways,” he said. “This guy violated them and took advantage of them and sexually exploited them, so, you know, they’ve definitely got some emotional issues to deal with. They’re also really angry — at least the older ones are really angry because now they know how long he’s been doing it and what the Boys Club knew about it. They’re really angry about it because they could have been spared.”

Kilgore went to work at the Boys & Girls Club in early 2002 and was soon known among employees, administrators and executive board members for “inappropriately close relationships with young boys at the club,” the suit states.

He began molesting the first of the victims in the civil case in early 2006, a year after the boy and his younger brother began attending the Verano Avenue club, the suit says. Later that year, the younger brother became a victim.

But the suit says other minors also were taken from the club for off-site and overnight trips. Parents and other staffers made complaints about his behavior, and club officials had discussions about reining him in, the suit said.

Instead, Kilgore was assigned to teach a sexual health class from 2007 to 2010 which, the suit claims, allowed him to “groom several minor boys and normalize his touching and sexual advances.” Several victims were among those in these classes, the suit claims.

The sexual abuse of the second two boys in the civil case began in 2010 and 2011 and persisted until 2016, when Kilgore was arrested.

The situation began to shift after fall 2012, when the club learned that Kilgore had taken several boys overnight to a house in Hopland.

Kilgore was suspended with pay while an internal investigation into his relationship with 10 boys was conducted revealing, in part, that he shared a bed with minor boys on overnight trips, the lawsuit states.

Parents were not contacted until after the investigation was completed and they were never informed about abuse allegations, the lawsuit states. Instead, they were told the organization was instituting “policy change” that would no longer permit off-site trips with Kilgore, it says.

One result was that then-CEOhief Executive Officer Dave Pier wrote a letter of reprimand to himself and two other administrators for jeopardizing club members’ safety and subjecting the organization “to a high level of risk” by failing to restrict Kilgore’s relationships with two boys in particular. The internal investigation determined “the Club members had been safe in Dwayne’s interaction with them.”

Pier did not return a phone message left at his current place of work.

Kilgore also was allowed to return to work, but told any outside relationships were over — though he soon flagrantly flouted the ban on off-site and overnight trips. He eventually sought a waiver from the policy, and then, weeks later, in September 2013, resigned, only to move onto the Petaluma club, unhindered by the Sonoma Valley staff, Ring said.

“‘“They passed the trash,” he said.

It was another three years before Kilgore’s sexual abuse of children came to light, and it was because of a Healdsburg school teacher who overheard a troubling conversation from an adjacent hot tub at Healdsburg’s Parkpoint Health Club, where an older man was talking intimately with two boys. All three were naked. One of them is a plaintiff in the civil case.

The teacher reported his observations to police, who subsequently arrested Kilgore. Publicity about the case resulted in an outpouring of calls to law enforcement alleging a pattern of abuse dating back several decades to Kilgore’s days working in public recreation in the city of the city of San Bruno.

He was tried earlier this year on criminal charges related to three victims, all under age 14 at the time of the offenses, and was convicted on six charges of child molestation.

Kilgore was sentenced to 150 years to life and is serving time at Mule Creek State Prison outside Sacramento.

Defendants in the civil suit include the national Boys & Girls Club of America, the Petaluma Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Petaluma, and Kilgore himself.

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