Kevin Todeschi Retires as Leader of Troubled Summer Camp
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Leader of Troubled Summer Camp Retires Following Allegations of Rape and Sexual Abuse

In the wake of lawsuits alleging rape and widespread sexual abuse at a popular Virginia summer camp for teens and families, the non-profit group that runs the camp has announced the retirement of its CEO, Kevin Todeschi, who was named in both of the cases.

In a statement to Law & Crime, Todeschi said his decision to retire at the end of the year will “facilitate the healing process of the organization and the camp community.”

Todeschi had worked for the Association for Research and Enlightenment, A.R.E., for almost four decades.

One of the lawsuits was filed by eight women who alleged “a dangerous cycle of continued sexual abuse and cover-ups that has lasted generations.”

The A.R.E. said Todeschi’s retirement came after the completion of an internal investigation, the results of which have not yet been made public. But Todeschi said the investigation confirmed “that I was not involved in any infractions at A.R.E. camp, nor did I participate in any suppression of information about any camp incident.”

The summer camp, located in the mountains of southwestern Virginia, is described by the A.R.E. as an idyllic place for children. But the eight women allege that they were sexually harassed and abused as children while they attended the summer camp.

“The first time I was sexually assaulted by a male counselor was when I was 13,” Lynsey Doe said in an interview on the Law&Crime Network program “Brian Ross Investigates.”

“I was raped, and I reported it,” the woman said.  “And I was silenced and victim-blamed.”

Lynsey said when she returned to the camp a few years later, she was ordered to apologize to the counselor who she accused of raping her.

“There was a ceremony held, very cult-like,” she continued. “They were just gaslighting me and saying it was my job to forgive him and reintegrate him into this community because the values of this community are unconditional love.”

Another former camper, Hannah Furbush, now 27, said she started to notice that the female campers, including other teenagers like her at the time, were being preyed upon by older male staff members. Furbush said she was coerced into participating in a “liberated underwear movement.” During the event, underage female campers would strip down to their underwear and run through the camp.

Other allegations included so-called “Massage Trains,” where campers and staff allegedly gave each other massages and back rubs.

“You had no say in who touched you,” said Furbush. “And often times when you are a tall woman like myself, being hugged by somebody from behind, you’re being touched in a place that you don’t want to be touched.”

Furbush also alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a senior director when she was 20.

“He had made advances to me all summer long. He touched me inappropriately all summer long, as well as sexually harassed me relentlessly,” she said.

But when she finally reported him, nothing happened, and the senior director was rehired for the following summer term, she noted.

“I was ostracized from the community and blamed because his feelings needed to be prioritized, which is a common theme in our community,” Furbush said.

“We want to put the shame back where it belongs because the shame belongs with A.R.E. who failed to protect these young children, who fostered this cult-like atmosphere of sexual abuse and sexual assault,” attorney Steve Estey, who is representing the women, told Law&Crime.

[images Courtesy of Lynsey Doe & Hannah Furbush]

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