Dear GSWNY Members,
We promised to keep you updated regarding the important news we shared on Saturday, May 30, 2020 (see below) and here are the facts as we have them: As we told you initially, we followed up with the police Monday, June 1, 2020 to obtain information about the Walton case. Kara Fraser, Chief Administrative Officer spoke to a North Tonawanda police captain who said that the alleged abuse did not occur at a Girl Scouts meeting, or event. This in no way changes our strong desire to do what is best for the two girls, nor does it alter our commitment to review and, if necessary, strengthen our protections and rules. But we wanted you to know that this was the case. If you have questions, please call Morgan Williams-Bryant, Chief Impact Officer at 716-935-6034, or email. Please also feel free to email me as well. We ask that you direct any media inquiries to Callie Johnson, EVP of Marketing at 716-935-6023 or email. Thank you.
Update from 5-30-2020:
To the Families of GSWNY,
We write to you today to inform you that North Tonawanda police arrested a troop co-leader and his wife who was a troop helper and they were arraigned in Niagara County Court late Friday on charges of sexually abusing two young children, ages eight and nine, according to a media report. At this point, though we immediately contacted police officials for details, we do not know who these victims are, or if they are involved in Girl Scouts, or not.
Nonetheless, we know you join all of us at the Girl Scouts of Western New York in voicing our concern for the two children and we want them to have the best-possible care and support.
This is hugely distressing to all of us at GSWNY, as it assuredly is for you as well. You are aware of the rules and regulations we emphasize involving adult-scout interactions. The father, Marty Walton, passed our thorough background check in October 2016 and, after the normal three-year coverage period, again in October 2019. We are unaware of when police say the children’s abuse took place, nor are we aware of how the reported abuse came to police attention.
Your first priority, and ours, of course, is the safety of our girls, and we take allegations like this very seriously. Given all we’ve seen in recent years about teachers, priests and youth leaders, we strive in everything we do to make sure our girls are protected. Indeed, while it does not lessen this case’s impact, this is the first such allegation in GSWNY history. This is profoundly upsetting, as we know it is to all of you. But while we sincerely apologize on behalf of Girl Scouts that Girl Scout volunteers are allegedly involved, we also pledge to you that we will be transparent and will cooperate and collaborate with law enforcement to the fullest extent necessary. We trust that you will do the same.
In addition, we are reviewing all our rules and procedures, which are standard for and supported by Girl Scouting nationally. After that review, we will tighten and modify those rules, as needed. If changes need to be made, we will inform you and explain those modifications. We are also in consultation with our national Girl Scouting leaders and drawing on their experience in this area.
We did not learn of these charges until yesterday evening from a media report. We immediately discharged Mr. Walton as a troop co-leader, and his wife, Shani, from her role as helper in the troop. Their daughter has been involved with Girl Scouts of Western New York since 2016.
We will continue to keep you informed as we learn more about this case, which goes against everything we teach and stand for. If you have questions, please call Morgan Williams-Bryant, Chief Impact Officer at 716-935-6034, or email. Please also feel free to email me as well. We ask that you direct any media inquiries to Callie Johnson, EVP of Marketing at 716-935-6023 or email.
We hope too that you and your family remain safe and healthy during this difficult time of COVID-19.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York