A man identified in court records as “John Doe” alleges in a new lawsuit that former New York Rep. Gary Ackerman sexually abused him when he was a teenager.
The plaintiff says Ackerman exploited him in 1966 when the former Democratic congressman was a director at Ten Mile River Scout Camp, a 12,000-acre Boy Scout reserve, according to the complaint filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The suit also names the camp and the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America as defendants.
The news was first reported by The Associated Press.
Ackerman’s attorney, Oscar Michelen of Cuomo LLC, stridently denied the allegations in a statement to the AP and said they would “vigorously” seek to have the suit dismissed.
“In over 30 years of public service, there has never been any accusation of this kind or indeed of any wrongdoing in the Congressman’s career,” Michelen said.
The Boy Scouts also denies negligence in hiring Ackerman.
“Had the national organization been made aware of credible allegations against Mr. Ackerman, we would have acted to remove him from scouting,” the organization said in a statement to the AP.
John Doe says that when he was a 17-year-old camper in Narrowsburg, New York, a remote town along the Delaware River, Ackerman drove him to an abandoned road and attempted to force him to perform oral sex, then forcefully performed oral sex on him.
He says he has suffered “catastrophic and lifelong injuries” and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
A bill passed by the New York state legislature in January of this year, the Child Victims Act, lifts the statute of limitations on sexual assault cases for victims of any age during a year-long window.
Ackerman served 15 terms in Congress before retiring in 2012.
Ackerman was recognized in Washington by the white carnation perennially pinned to his lapel and the 1966 Plymouth Valiant he drove up to Capitol Hill. He was known for his quotable interrogations of executives from the Financial Services Committee and for staking hawkish positions on the Foreign Affairs Committee, especially on U.S. actions in defense of the Israeli government.