The man who has headed Camp Spindrift for the past 17 years and worked at the Cape Ann YMCA and its camp for more than three decades is resigning in the aftermath of an alleged sexual assault by a counselor on a camper this past summer.
Rick Doucette's resignation announcement comes after weeks of talks regarding camp and teen program policies following the levying of assault charges against counselor Christopher Brayton-Tedesco, 28, in August. But, neither Doucette nor Christopher Lovasco, executive director of the YMCA of the North Shore, say Doucette's exit — effective Nov. 16, Lovasco said Monday — is directly tied to the case or any wrongdoing on his part or the Y.
In a weekend online post, Doucette — who has worked at the YMCA since he was a student in Gloucester High School's Class of 1986 — said he was stepping down following a series of talks with Lovasco regarding camp operations as a whole. Doucette, a well-known figure across the community, has headed the Y's summer camp and teen programs since the early 2000s and had previously served as the Cape Ann Y's overall executive director. He has also been a member and past president of the Gloucester Rotary Club, among other community service roles.
"Over the past couple of months, I have had several direct conversations with Chris Lovasco ...," Doucette's post reads. "As he articulated to me his plans for the future of Camp Spindrift and the teen programs on Cape Ann, it became clear to me these new priorities are best done under new leadership.
"Therefore," he said, "I am resigning from my position as executive director of teen and camp services." He did not respond to calls Monday seeking additional comment.
Changes in camp 'structure'
Lovasco, in a phone interview Monday, emphasized that the decision to step aside is solely Doucette's. He also said that any policies and procedural changes related to operations at Camp Spindrift and within the YMCA teen program will be "internal" and related more to "structure" than any moves affecting the programs themselves.
"At this point, we're talking about things like transportation, registrations, and supervision of staffing structures," he said, adding that the "camp experience will be maintained and enhanced."
During testimony at Brayton-Tedesco's Oct. 22 dangerousness hearing, YMCA risk management and child safety director Darlene Moulton said she learned in the days following the suspect's arrest that another counselor who came forward admitted that she — at Brayton-Tedesco's urging — had not served as van monitor as scheduled when Brayton-Tedesco transported the alleged victim between the boy's home and the camp. The action regularly left Brayton-Tedesco alone with the boy against Y policy once he dropped the other counselor off at her Gloucester home, Moulton testified.
Also, evidence outlined at the hearing — including video footage showing Brayton-Tedesco and the alleged victim walking nude across a room and then upstairs in the suspect's apartment — indicated the assaults allegedly occurred at Brayton-Tedesco's residence at a time when he had falsely led the boy's mother to believe her son was at camp, prosecutor Aimee Conway indicated. Spindrift annually hosts a three-day overnight stay for campers, though it is not clear if those early August dates were the days on which the alleged assaults occurred. All police records in the case remain sealed.
Flaherty to lead camp
Lovasco said Monday it's "way too early" to determine whether any changes will involve the overnight program or other specific camp events. He said one change, however, will likely include having Cape Ann YMCA Executive Director Tim Flaherty take over supervision of the camp.
"One of the issues we have had is having staff reporting under two different directors," Lovasco said, referring to Doucette and Flaherty in his current role. He added that any changes will be carried out "as we look toward the big picture."
"All of this will be looking toward our future, and that includes a new YMCA (as part of the Fuller School redevelopment project) as well," he said.
In the meantime, he and Doucette emphasized that Doucette will work with a transition of camp and teen program leadership.
"I have offered to help the transition in any way possible and wish for nothing but success for the Y staff team," Doucette wrote in his post. "It has been my true privilege and honor to work for the YMCA over the past 35 years. I am profoundly grateful not just for the opportunities I've been given, but also the friendships and relationships that have been forged over my time of service to generations of the Cape Ann community."
"Rick has been a true pioneer, and I could not — personally or professionally — be more grateful for his commitment and leadership," Lovasco said. "But even though Rick is going to be missed, we're also excited to build upon the traditions he's built at Camp Spindrift, and we're going to stay focused on the high-quality experiences and community service we've always offered."
Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or firstname.lastname@example.org.