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From "Pillar Of The Community" To Prisoner To Pastor

Dirk Davenport, who pleaded guilty in the 1980's to sexual assault of nine Boy Scouts, is serving as an associate pastor at a Florida church. His actions in the 1980's led to a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the Boy Scouts of America.

 

An Associated Press Report says the man at the center of a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America involving repeated cases of child sex abuse is serving as an associate in congregational care at SunCoast Cathedral MCC in Venice, Fla.

"Davenport, 74, didn't return a phone message left Tuesday at the SunCoast Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church in Venice, Fla., where he is an associate pastor. His home phone number is unlisted," the Associated Press report in The Miami Herald said. Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/21/2653590/boy-scouts-sued-over-alleged-sex.html#storylink=cpy

A woman who answered the phone Wednesday morning at the church said Davenport was not in, but that he was expected in later that evening. She said he serves as an associate pastor at the church, helping the senior pastor with the care of the congregation. She said she did not know about the reports of child sex abuse and did not know whether it was the same Davenport and declined to answer further questions.

She said the senior pastor, the Rev. Dr. Sherry L. Kennedy, also was not in Wednesday morning, but said she would give her a message seeking her comment.

A safe spiritual home

The Facebook page for the church says it is part of Metropolitan Communty Churches, "an International Christian denomination representing approximately 300 congregations."

"The denomination was founded by the Reverend Troy Perry as a safe spiritual home for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people and our allies," the Facebook page says. "At the present time MCC reaches beyond the GLTB community to welcome anyone seeking spirituality and community. SunCoast Cathedral epitomizes this doctrine. We provide a home for all who are seeking to discover and express their unique spiritual paths learning the Word of God through education and fellowship."

The church is located at 3276 E. Venice Ave., Venice, Fla.

The News & Observer reports in 2009 that it is the same man

A story in The News & Observer from North Carolina, published Oct 28, 2009, says that the man working at the church is the same man who pleaded guilty to charges of child sexual abuse in the 1980's.

The story says:

"In April 1985, the Rev. Dirk Davenport was a part-time pastor in Centerbrook, Conn., where he was also a Boy Scout troop master and Little League baseball umpire. A divorced father with three children, a local newspaper described him as a "pillar of the community." Police arrested him on sexual assault charges after nine Boy Scouts, ranging in age from 10 to15, said he had behaved inappropriately in encounters in his car and at his home. Three of the boys said Davenport fondled them, while the others said he had shown them pornographic magazines and videos. Authorities later arrested the minister again after another boy came forward, saying he was also molested. Though he initially proclaimed his innocence, Davenport later pleaded guilty to two felony accounts in a deal where prosecutors dropped additional pending charges. He served 21/2 years in prison, according to records at the Connecticut Department of Corrections. Dirk Davenport could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He is now an associate pastor at SunCoastCathedral Metropolitan Community Church in Venice, Fla., according to the church's Web site. Davenport is not listed in the Internet registries for sex offenders in either Connecticut or Florida. His conviction predates the creation of such online registries."

David Davenport says his father is "reformed"

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2009/10/28/161323/teens-dined-with-molester.html#storylink=cpy

The story in the North Carolina paper was prompted by the revelation that Davenport's son, David Davenport, had invited his father to dine with a group of teenagers as part of an event at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences during a museum-sponsored trip to Florida in April of that year.

The older Davenport was invited by his son David, who runs Ecoquest Travel. David Davenport could not be reached for comment early Wednesday.

The story reports:

"The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences is severing ties with a local ecotourism company after children dined with a convicted child molester during a museum-sponsored trip to Florida in April. The Rev. D. Dirk Davenport pleaded guilty in 1985 to fondling and showing pornography to 10 boys from a Scout troop he supervised in Connecticut. He now lives in Port Charlotte, Fla., where he is an associate pastor of a Metropolitan Community Church. Davenport, 72, was invited to dine with the North Carolina tour group by his son, David Davenport, a former museum employee who now runs EcoQuest Travel. The business has organized trips for the museum's junior curator program since 2005."

David Davenport is quoted as saying that he feels his father is no longer a danger because he is "reformed" after undergoing extensive counseling. "He paid his dues to society," David Davenport is quoted as saying in the story. "As far as I'm concerned, that's done and over and ancient history. It has no real bearing on who my father is today."

Two former Boy Scouts from Madison file suit against Boy Scouts of America

Two men who were members of Madison Boy Scout Troop # 490 have filed suit against the Boy Scouts of America, saying that they were abused by their former scoutmaster, David "Dirk" Davenport, when they were members of the troop in the early 1980's.

The lawsuit, in New Haven Superior Court, is being filed against the Boy Scouts of America, Corp., the Connecticut Yankee Council, Inc., and the Boy Scouts of America.

The lawyer for the two men, Kelly Clark of Portland, Oregon, who specializes in cases relating to abuse by Boy Scout leaders, says that the scouting organization knew or should have known that Davenport was a pedophile, because he was accused of child molestation while involved with the scouts in Weeping Water, Nebraska, Dodge Center, Minnesota,  and Medford, Minnesota, all before coming to Madison.

Abuse in 1980's occured at church, and at Boy Scout camp in Killingworth, among other locations

Clark said Tuesday that lawyers involved with the case thought Davenport had lived in Thailand for a time. Contacted Wednesday morning, Clark said he did not know if this was the same man named in the lawsuit. He did say that the Davenport named in the lawsuit would be about 74 years old.

Frank C. Bartlett, Jr., a lawyer from the Cheshire law firm of Ouellette, Deganis & Gallagher, LLC said that some of the abuse occurred at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Madison. He said that the church is where the scout meetings were held. "We are not saying that Mr. Davenport was associated with the church or that the church knew what was going on," he said.

The suit also says some of the abuse occurred at Camp Deer Lake in Killingworth. Deer Lake Scout Reservation is a 253-acre property owned and operated by the Connecticut Yankee Council.

Thanks to the Madison Patch reader who alerted us to the story in the Miami Herald. If you hear of something we should be reporting, please email us at pem.mcnerney@patch.com. 

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