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Moose CEO exits in wake of sex abuse suit

Published: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 7:07 a.m. CDT

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William Airey, director general and CEO of Moose International, retired Friday, a week after a lawsuit was filed accusing him of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy in the 1980s.

Moose International operates Mooseheart Child City and School near Batavia, a community and school for children and teens in need. The international headquarters also is on the Mooseheart campus.

According to a statement by Moose International, Airey, 71, retired, but will stay on as a consultant through Jan. 31 to help in the transition.

Spokesman Kurt Wehrmeister said Airey’s retirement was voluntary.

“No one asked him to retire,” Wehrmeister said.

In the wake of Airey’s retirement, Scott Hart, 43, executive director of Mooseheart Child City and School, was named CEO of Moose International.

“It was solely his decision to retire,” Hart said of Airey. “My take on it – he did not want to take the focus off the good work the fraternity is doing across the country.”

Airey did not return voicemail and email messages seeking comment.

Ohio attorney Konrad Kircher said he believes the timing of Airey’s retirement is connected to the sex abuse complaint. Kircher represents Jason Peck, 44, of Fort Mill, S.C., who alleges in the suit that Airey sexually abused, molested and exploited him around 1980 when Peck was 12.

“The fact that he is away from children is good, regardless of how it came about,” Kircher said. “We’re happy that the Moose did the right thing by accepting his resignation.”

Moose International investigated Airey for sexual misconduct with children in 1996 and again in 2007, but took no action, the suit states. The suit seeks more than $25,000 in financial and punitive damages.

In a statement, Barbara Blane, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Moose officials should determine whether other children were abused in their organization.

But Hart said he is not aware of any other allegations at Moose International or Mooseheart. Hart said the organization conducts safety questionnaires several times a year with the children in its care.

‘”We ask children about their safety and the safety of others at Mooseheart,” Hart said. “We do everything we can to make sure our children are safe at Mooseheart.”

In another leadership move, Superintendent of Education Gary Urwiler was named interim executive director of Mooseheart, Hart said.

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