In the wake of a lawsuit claiming Moose International CEO William Airey sexually abused a 12-year-old boy more than 30 years ago, Moose International announced today (Friday, Dec. 21) that Airey will retire immediately.
Airey's replacement is Scott D. Hart, executive director of Mooseheart Child City and School.
Airey, 71, will stay on with the organization as a consultant of the 1.2 million-member organization through Jan. 31, to help in the transition, according to a press release issued by Moose International shortly before 3 p.m. Friday.
The civil lawsuit against Airey filed Dec. 13 in Fort Hill, SC, by North Carolina physician Jason Peck claims that Airey "began grooming him to abuse him sexually in 1980, when he was 12," according an article on the Huffington Post website.
The lawsuit further claims that Airey was twice investigated by Moose International for sexual misconduct—in 1996 and again in 2007—but the organization took no action.
Airey's official title was director general/chief executive officer of Moose International. He joined the organization's professional staff as assistant director of membership in 1983 and was promoted to various positions within the Moose before rising in 2006 to the top position.
Mooseheart has had a history of sex-abuse scandals, the most recent court decision coming in 2011, when Mooseheart student James Powell, 18, pleaded guilty in Kane County court to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a 12-year-old student in 2010.
Four times during a five-year period from 1989 to 1994, Mooseheart houseparents were arrested and convicted of charges of sexual abuse against children, according to a Chicago Tribune article published in 1994.
Hart, 43, started his career with the Moose as an in-home caregiver on the Mooseheart campus in 1991, following his graduation from Illinois State University, according to the Moose International press release.
Over the next 12 years, he accepted roles of increasing responsibility before assuming his current position as executive director in charge of all functions for the community and school for children in need in March 2003.
“I know firsthand the outstanding dedication and care that is provided by the men and women of the Moose around the world, especially in regards to children and seniors in need," Hart said. "This is an exciting opportunity to work cooperatively with our board and introduce new ideas that will carry the fraternity forward, build our membership, and allow us to help even more individuals and communities.”
Hart assumes overall responsibility for Moose International’s five organizational units: the Loyal Order of Moose; the Women of the Moose; Mooseheart Child City and School; Moosehaven Retirement Community; and Moose Charities, the organization’s fundraising arm.
Gary Urwiler, superintendent of education for Mooseheart schools since 2003, becomes interim executive director of Mooseheart Child City and School.