The Jamaica Plain-based Italian Home for Children is facing an allegation that its former chief financial officer—George P. Forte Jr.—sexually abused a boy there during the early 1980s.
The claim was made last month by lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, a famed advocate of Catholic Church sexual abuse survivors, on behalf of the unnamed alleged victim via a letter seeking a financial settlement.
The Italian Home, in a written statement to the Gazette, said it conducted an investigation into the claim and found “no evidence” to support it.
The Italian Home also described Forte as a “former employee.” It is unclear when and why he left his job there, but it was a recent move. The Italian Home’s most recent annual report, filed with the Secretary of State’s Office seven months ago, lists Forte as the organization’s CFO and was signed by him.
A profile for Forte on the business-networking website LinkedIn lists him as having worked at the Italian Home since 1982, and also as being a Scout leader in North Attleboro. The Gazette left a phone message for a George Forte listed in that town, but did not receive a response.
Located at 1125 Centre St. in Jamaica Hills, the Italian Home is now an independent nonprofit organization that provides residential and day treatment for youths with emotional problems. In the 1980s, at the time of the alleged sexual abuse, the Italian Home was part of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and operated by a Newton-based religious order called the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.
Garabedian’s demand letter states that the alleged victim—now 40-year-old man—was “repeatedly sexually molested by Mr. Forte” between 1980 and 1983 while a resident of the Italian Home. Garabedian is famed as a lawyer representing scores of victims during the Catholic Church child sexual abuse scandal in Boston and other areas. He provided copies of the letter to the Gazette with the alleged victim’s name and the request financial settlement amount redacted.
The letter states that the alleged victim suffers from variety of injuries, including low self-esteem, flashbacks, loneliness and substance abuse.
The letter was sent to the Italian Home, the Boston Archdiocese and the Franciscan Sisters.
The Archdiocese did not respond to a request for comment.
The Italian Home for Children said in a statement to the Gazette that the allegation about a former employee is “deeply troubling” and that the organization takes “it very seriously.”
“We can confirm that the allegation had been brought to the organization’s attention, and we immediately hired outside counsel to oversee an investigation,” the statement said. “No evidence was found to support the allegation. Italian Home for Children is wholly devoted to the safety and well-being of the children in our care and does not condone any behavior at odds with our all-important mission.”
Robert Hoatson of Road to Recovery, a nonprofit that helps victims of sexual abuse and their families, is involved with the case and came to the Gazette’s office to discuss it following a protest event outside the home earlier this month. He said that the victim is seeking “resources to heal” and to “make him whole.”
Asked if law enforcement has been contacted about the case, Hoatson said that information has been given to the Boston Police Department (BPD), but that it might be beyond the statute of limitations. BPD did not respond to a request for comment.