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Lawsuit alleges sex-abuse cover-up by Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley

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A lawsuit alleging the cover-up of sexual misconduct committed by Sonoma resident Paul “Dwayne” Kilgore was filed this morning against the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, where Kilgore had been employed from 2002 to 2013.

Kilgore, 70, was found guilty in March of 2018 of six counts of sexual abuse of a minor and sentenced to 150 years in prison.

The civil suit, filed in Sonoma Superior Court by attorneys on behalf of four of Kilgore’s victims, who during their years of abuse ranged in age from 6 to 13, alleges that during his 12-year employment with the Sonoma Valley Boys & Girls Club, staff there received multiple complaints and warnings from parents, club participants and its own employees about Kilgore’s misconduct, but took no action, enabling Kilgore to continue sexually abusing his young victims for years.

The suit was filed on behalf of the victims by Taylor & Ring, a Los Angeles-based trial law firm. The lead attorneys on the case are partner Dave M. Ring and co-counsel Natalie Weatherford.

Also named as defendants in the suit are the national Boys & Girls Club of America organization, the Petaluma Boys & Girls Club, where Kilgore was employed in 2014, as well as Kilgore himself. The suit says other individuals may be named as defendants in further addendums to the initial filing.

In a statement announcing the suit, Ring said, Kilgore “used his position of authority to gain trust and take advantage” of the victims “by manipulating their emotions and sexually exploiting them.”

“The Boys & Girls Club ratified this sexual abuse because they knew it was occurring as far back as 2002,” said Ring, “yet turned a blind eye, allowing him to continue ‘coaching’ young boys unsupervised.”

Weatherford said the club could have prevented most of the abuse if it had taken the complaints about Kilgore seriously.

“Instead, the club chose to protect its employee, Kilgore, over the children entrusted into its care,” wrote Weatherford.

The lawsuit provides a timeline of events that allege when specific complaints about Kilgore were made, and when reports of inappropriate conduct by Kilgore were allegedly ignored by club management and staff.

The suit posits that from the time Kilgore was hired at the Boys & Girls Club in 2002 through his resignation in 2013, some club employees had become aware of suspicions, or had received specific complaints by club members, that Kilgore was engaging in inappropriate relationships with club members, including undressing in front of members, having members undress in front of him, commenting on their genitalia, buying them presents and taking them on overnight trips and to his home, and that club staff did not alert parents or law enforcement.

When reached by phone on Tuesday, Ring said that he has evidence that the Boys & Girls Clubs “went out of their way to keep this problem internal and to protect themselves.”

To demonstrate the club’s knowledge of Kilgore’s actions, Ring provided the Index-Tribune with a 2013 letter from then-CEO David Pier, cc’d to Board President Marchelle Carleton, in which Pier states his concerns about Kilgore’s relationships with members outside of his scope of work with the club.

In the letter, Pier refers to an internal investigation into Kilgore’s “relationships with many Club members beyond his scope of work duties,” an investigation which “determined that the Club members had been safe in (Kilgore’s) interactions with them.” However, “it also revealed that the scope of his relationship with these members was well beyond the intentions of allowing him to initially mentor the two Club members.”

Continued Pier in the letter: “Club members’ safety was jeopardized and the future of the Club as an organization was subjected to a high level of risk” as a result, writes Pier, who goes on to state that “He will work to ensure that incident of this nature will not occur in the future.”

When called by the Index-Tribune for a comment on the letter, Pier said he would “refer all comment to the club at this time.”

Upon reviewing the lawsuit on Tuesday, Cary Dacy, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs Sonoma Valley, provided a statement to the Index-Tribune saying the organization had cooperated fully throughout the course of the initial police investigation and would continue to do so.

“The safety and protection of the children we serve remains the number one priority of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley,” read the statement. “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.”

The complaint is claiming the negligence resulted in “personal injuries and damages arising from childhood sexual abuse” and it requests action be determined by trial by jury.

As it is an ongoing legal matter, Dacy said that “the Club will not comment further on the case until after the legal process has been completed.”

Kilgore is currently serving out his sentence at Mule Creek State Prison in Amador County, California.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Contact Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.