Boy Scout leader on hearing reports of abuse at Charlotte County camp

Reporter: Chris Cifatte
Published: Updated:
Sign showing the entrance to the camp. (Credit: WINK News)
Sign showing the entrance to the camp. (Credit: WINK News)

A camp counselor at Camp Miles in Charlotte County heard a 15-year-old’s plea for help after staff molested him. It was 30 years ago, but the memory and the guilt remain to this day.

Keith Briggs ran Camp Miles in the late 1980s. He met a camper named Aaron Averhart when another counselor brought him to his door in tears. “‘Mr. Briggs, you’ve got a problem,'” Briggs said. “And I said, ‘what’s the problem?’ And Aaron was with her. Tears flowing down his eyes.”

Briggs said Averhart, 15 years old, told him how the aquatics director, William Sheehan, had molested him repeatedly. “She goes, ‘Aaron, why don’t you tell Mr. Briggs what you’ve told me?’ Well, it was unbelievable, Chris. Unbelievable!”

Averhart is the only person to come forward and claim abuse at the camp. But Sheehan is accused of molesting dozens of boys up north before moving down here. It is making headlines again because of a News-Press story.

Averhart details the abuse and his belief that someone who abused dozens of boys in Massachusetts did not stop at just one person down here during his 9 years working at the camp and as a teacher at San Carlos Park Elementary.”I hope this helps some other youngster out there to come forward, so we can save his life for crying out loud.”

Averhart sent WINK News a statement saying the same message. That he hopes the stories help other victims come forward, and he believes there are more victims. The Boy Scouts of America would not comment specifically but did say it takes safety seriously and would pay for counseling to any past victim.

Sheehan, the accused molester, died a couple of years ago. He was never arrested. As for Briggs, there is another night at camp that haunts him when he saw Sheehan alone and close with a child in the water. “I walked out on the dock and he moved his hand real quick,” Briggs said, “And I said, ‘what’s going on?'”

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