An Introduction to James Chester vs the Boys and Girls Club of Boston

In 1963, one afternoon during the last week of June and the first week of July, two extremely sadistic counselors at the Stay At Home day camp at the Charlestown Boys Club forcibly herded about a dozen boys into this room and then proceeded to rape, mutilate, and torture them. My name is James Chester. I was one of those boys. And this is my story.
One afternoon during the last week of June and the first week of July, in 1963, two extremely sadistic counselors at the Stay At Home day camp at the Charlestown Boys Club, just across the Charles River from Boston, forcibly herded about a dozen boys into this room and then proceeded to rape, mutilate, and torture them. My name is James Chester. I was one of those boys. And this is my story.

WARNING: This webpage explicitly describes the sadistic rape and torture of children at the Charlestown Boys Club in 1963.

In July of 1963, I attended a two-week session of the Stay-At-Home day camp at the Charlestown Boys Club, along with sixty-four other boys. Every day, we headed out on a school bus to a local outing at a nearby park or beach. When we returned later, we were split up into five groups of thirteen boys and went our separate ways, depending on which indoor activity we had been assigned. Sometimes we went to the pool. Other times we went to the gym or the game room, or we did something else, but always as a group of thirteen.

One day, my group spent the afternoon playing basketball inside the Jordan Gym. That day, two male counselors, who had already spent some time testing the limits of the Boys Club supervision over their budding sadistic and homosexual aspirations reached a point of total abandon, throwing off any fear of consequence, and proceeded to rape, mutilate, and torture us, each of us.

One by one, as we played basketball, these two counselors called us into the office. After some time, they would come out and call another one of us in. I was the last one. When I was called, I said I would not go. The blonde-haired one, as opposed to the dark-haired one, grinning broadly with a wild, evil smile, said “You have to come in. Everyone else has, and now it’s your turn.” I ran for the door. They both chased me down, caught me, and dragged me into the room, while I kicked and screamed. Once inside, I did not give up trying to get away. At one point, I tried to undo the lock on the door, but they pulled me away from it. At another point, I tried to hide under some gym mats that were being stored in the room, obviously, to no avail. And then the horror began.

One by one, we were forced to strip naked and dance in the middle of the room, while they tried to ridicule and humiliate us. Some children began crying. I continued to focus on finding an escape. Then the sexual assaults began. And they were horrific.

At the ripe old age of just eleven, young enough to be defenseless but old enough to understand, I experienced sheer horror as I watched the blonde-haired counselor sitting in a chair, knowing that I was next, repeatedly ramming a baseball bat into the rectum of a very small boy, who I would now estimate was between seven and eight years old. The fear alone was extremely maddening. The guy was grinning wildly, rocking his head and shoulders side to side, as if he was experiencing some insane, evil rapture. I noticed the boy was not resisting. As it turned out, his resignation saved him. Even though he was severely maimed, according to his own account, his mutilation was entirely physical. He underwent numerous surgeries afterward, extending over several years, but his mind was spared.

My mind was not spared. I went mad. That’s how I was maimed. When I walked out of that room afterwards, I had lost my mind. After the anal raping, which felt like my insides being sucked out, they started the oral raping, which was much less frightening and much less painful but profoundly humiliating. Afterwards, they ordered me to clean up the excrement that was on the floor. And when they saw me doing it, the dark-haired one ordered me to lick it up. Then they told me they were going to throw me out the window, and they made me beg for my life, which I did. Again, I was eleven years old.

According to the assistant camp director, Edmund Moussally, whom I tracked down thirty-eight years later, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston knew what had happened the very next day and immediately moved to cover it up. I believe at least half of Charlestown — if not the whole town — knew what had happened the next day. Many years later, when I spoke with the publisher of Charlestown Patriot newspaper, James Conway, who was also at one time chairman of the Boys Club’s board of directors, he told me there were people in town who knew what had happened to me all those years earlier. And I specifically remember some woman approaching me after the incident inside the clubhouse and asking “Can you tell me what happened” in that room. But I couldn’t. I just stared straight ahead and said nothing, to which she remarked “Okay.” So, not only did the Boys and Girls Club of Boston know precisely what had happened the very next day, they also knew that children had been severely maimed and that I, specifically, had endured — and continued to endure — suffering that was unspeakable.

I do not believe I will ever understand how a human being, let alone an entire organization (and an organization supposedly dedicated to the well-being of children), could deliberately leave a severely injured child laying by the side of the road as they drove off. Who made that decision? And where did they find the courage to make that decision?

Notwithstanding their lack of conscience, I give them credit for one thing. On Christmas Day following the attack, a man in a truck showed up at my house with a box of used, broken toys. He knocked on the door and said the box was for me. My mother was mortified that someone came to her door with a charitable handout. She asked me if I had asked someone for the toys and I insisted I hadn’t. But she didn’t believe me, and she showed me real disdain that I would have done such a thing. Later, one of my sisters took me aside and asked me to confide in her privately: “You asked for those toys, didn’t you?” Again, I said no, repeatedly. But everyone thought it was me. Years later, I finally figured out that it was the Boys Club who sent them. That was their compensation to me for a lifetime of suffering. I give them credit for thinking of me on Christmas Day, I think.

And believe me, what they did was nothing less than condemn me to a life of unspeakable suffering, As a boy, I remember writhing in pain on my bedroom floor, begging God to make the suffering stop. When He didn’t, I tried to negotiate with Him, pleading instead that He just reveal to me why this was happening and I would fix it myself somehow. When He wouldn’t do that either, I stopped asking Him for anything. That was a very long time ago. I was just a boy. And I never spoke to Him again.

I spent the next two decades in talking therapy, starting when I was just seventeen. Like all therapy, it was painful, but I persisted, indefatigably hopeful that it would help. It did not. In 1972, after spending three years working with a specialist in child psychiatry, my sense of feeling was partially but only momentarily restored, which immediately led to a “transient psychosis” and my hospitalization at Mass General Hospital for 30 days. Ten years later, after working twice weekly with the co-director of Primary Care Psychiatry at Mass General, I reported to her that I was having thoughts that I had been raped at the Charlestown Boys Club when I was a boy, that I had no idea where the thoughts were coming from, or even if they were real. She just looked at me and smiled compassionately. That’s it. She just smiled at me. I thought that was an inadequate method of treatment, and our relationship subsequently deteriorated irreparably. That was the end of talking therapy for me. I never went back.

Just as I was beginning talk therapy when I was seventeen, I also discovered a passion for philosophy and then found a particular philosopher whose books transformed my passion into an enduring and patient love that I would pursue day in and day out for the rest of my life. Though I did not realize it at the time, this particular philosopher taught a philosophy that the most important, most rewarding, and most meaningful endeavor that a human being can undertake during the course of their life is an effort to find a way to his demons, confront them, and then struggle to free himself from their grip. More importantly, he wrote a book in which he laid out the steps by which to charter this journey — individually — and then he laid out the steps to redeem the demons and ascend to a redemptive peace beyond them. This was extremely rare and valuable knowledge, and he made it even more rare and valuable by encrypting it. For more than a hundred years, no one could decrypt it, and many, many tried. A month after I left Mass General, in 1972, after having already spent a couple years trying, I decrypted it. And then I began reading it. But reading it was only the first of many steps that were required to learn what was being taught in this book. This book required much, much more than a mere reading. It required an enactment — with one’s own life. And that is what I eventually did with my life, my demons. How I did it is another story that I will tell at another time. But suffice it to say that, in 1996, I finally made my way to my demons, and that is how I discovered what had happened.

Up until 1996, my memory of that day at the Charlestown Boys Club was extremely limited. When I thought of it, I always thought “Boy, I was lucky to get out of the okay.” I had absolutely no memory of the assault. While it is true that, years earlier, I had sudden, inexplicable thoughts that I had been raped at the Charlestown Boys Club, there was no imagery associated with the thoughts or any recall, simply a single thought, and it was a thought in which I could vest no truth, given that I did not even understand the origin of the thought. In 1996, there was imagery, which I documented. In 1996, I knew what had happened. And I was determined to make it right.

The very first thing I did was to contact the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. I wrote them a letter on September 16, 1996, explaining what I had discovered, how I had suffered as a result of it, and I begged them to help me get through what I thought was “the last leg” of my very long journey to recovery. They responded with an unambiguous and unequivocal demand for proof and they also insinuated “Good luck with that.”

Over the next few years, I provided them with corroboration from another victim and the co-director of the day camp, as well as documentation of the medical treatment that was provided to me over all the years that I suffered with my injuries. They ignored everything. And, through their attorneys, Judith Malone and Jeffrey Jones of Palmer and Dodge, they were extremely adversarial. For instance, when I asked them to give me assurances that my medical records would be protected, they refused. They would not negotiate or compromise with me on any point whatsoever. It was their way or no way; they made that very clear. Three years after trying to provide them convincing proof, as they had demanded, I threw in the towel and went public.

I put up a website, wrote letters to people, ran an ad in the Charlestown Patriot newspaper, and plastered signs all over Charlestown. And they immediately offered to settle, which brings me to Larry Hardoon.

Larry Hardoon was a senior prosecutor in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office. According to his bio at bhpklaw.com, he founded and directed the Child Abuse Prosecution Unit in that office. He is well-known for prosecuting the Fells Acre child abuse case, which you can read about at the Boston Phoenix and at the Boston Globe. When we met, he was an attorney at Hardoon and Ball on State Street. Later, he joined Brody, Hardoon, Perkins and Kesten. Things quickly went downhill. He proceeded to do, in my opinion, absolutely nothing, which I found unacceptable, so we parted ways. Quickly thereafter, I called him back and asked if he’d write a few letters for me. He agreed to write a letter to an individual whom I suspected of being one of the perpetrators and then proceeded to lose the letter, which sat on his secretary’s desk for one month. When I called complaining that something is not right because the guy should have responded by now, Hardoon investigated and found the letter, un-mailed. Three years later, Larry had done nothing to advance my case beyond that letter and a few other letters to Judith Malone, in part because I had yet to identify the perpetrators by name. But I think the initial parting of ways left some simmering resentment in Larry Hardoon.

Following my going public after three years of being stonewalled, Judith Malone sent a letter to Larry Hardoon, exclaiming a willingness to talk. Malone and I agreed to have a meeting. She also agreed to get back to me with a specific date at the beginning of the next week. When she didn’t get back to me, after having already gone public with a website, after having crossed the Rubicon, I was ready to contact Boston Globe editor Matt Storin. But I wanted to be cautious, so I called Larry Hardoon, told him I was disappointed that Ms. Malone had not gotten back to me when she said she would, that I was ready to go to the Globe, and asked him what he thought I should do. His exact words to me were “I think you should do whatever you think is right.” That afternoon, over the telephone, Larry Hardoon saw me walking off a cliff during a terrific storm in the middle of the night, and he encouraged me on my way. That was payback for my firing him in the very beginning when I realized he was not going to do anything to help me. Interestingly, during that brief time when a settlement was imminent, before I walked off the cliff, Larry and I had another telephone conversation which he tried to turn to his advantage when he told me that we needed to address the matter of his compensation in this matter. I was surprised because it sounded like he wanted a percentage — and he’d done nothing, in my opinion. I replied that I expected him to send me a bill for the hours he put in, and that shut him up. The other interesting point is that he never had me sign a contingency agreement, which no lawyer would ever leave undone. And that, too, indicated to me that Larry Hardoon never intended to do anything to help me, from the beginning.

But there’s more: about Larry Hardoon, about Matt Storin at the Boston Globe, and, most importantly, about William W. Bain, Jr., the great Bill Bain.

Next: Palmer and Dodge LLP vs. James Chester