WESTERLY — An Exeter man charged within the past month with several counts of sexual assault, including one incident involving an 18-year-old disabled man, was associated with a Boy Scout troop that meets in the parish hall of Immaculate Conception Church, the church's pastor said Friday.
The Rev. Giacomo Capoverdi, pastor of the High Street church, said he learned that James Glawson was involved with Troop 10 after reading news accounts of Glawson's arrest. Glawson was arrested on Feb. 15 and charged with assaulting the disabled man. On Wednesday he was charged with eight additional counts of first degree sexual assault and one count of possession of child pornography.
"He has nothing to do with the parish itself," said Capoverdi, who has been with Immaculate Conception Church for eight years.
Capoverdi also said that no children from the parish are members of the troop and that none of the troop's leaders are members of the parish. The troop was founded at the church years ago, he said.
Capoverdi said he had discussed Glawson's arrest with parish leaders but had not communicated with parishioners because Glawson had no connection to the church itself.
The Rhode Island State police have released few details about the victims, but WPRI-TV obtained an audio recording of proceedings during Glawson's appearance in Fourth Division District Court that include a description of some of the crimes.
The recording refers to a total of at least five victims ranging in age from 10 to 16 years old. The recording also indicates that the charges arise from sexual incidents "involving penetration" that occurred at Glawson's residence. The victims were connected to Boy Scout groups in Rhode Island, according to the recording. A copy of the recording from the court, which is being made for purchase by The Sun, was not available Friday.
State police have said that Glawson had been affiliated with the Boy Scouts since 1980. He had also served as an assistant Catholic chaplain and Eucharistic minister at the St. John Bosco Chapel at the Yawgoog Scout Reservation, a summer camp in Hopkinton run by the Narragansett Council of the Boy Scouts of America, from 2012 to 2018.
Police had also said that Glawson was "affiliated" with the Immaculate Conception Church in Westerly and with St. Bernard Church in North Kingstown. A statement from Rev. John E. Unsworth of St Bernard described Glawson as a longtime member of the parish and a Eucharistic minister there for more than 20 years.
During a news conference on Wednesday, State Police Supt. James Manni said the most recent charges stemmed from incidents that occurred in the 1980s. When asked whether additional charges are expected, state police spokeswoman Laura Kirk on Friday referred to an earlier statement from Manni.
"We have reason to believe there could be additional victims and additional criminal charges," Manni said.
In a statement issued to The Sun on Friday, Tim McCandless, Scout executive and CEO of the Narragansett Council, said that Scouting representatives had met in person with parents and scouts of the units that Glawson was affiliated with and that state police attended the meetings.
"These behaviors are appalling and completely unacceptable. The safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs continues to be our top priority," McCandless said.
Before his arrest, Glawson's registration in Scouting had previously been revoked for unrelated conduct that failed to meet the organization's standards. At that time he was permanently banned from any future participation in Scouting, McCandless said in an earlier statement.
On Friday, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence reissued a statement it released in February, saying that Glawson was never a diocesan employee. "Glawson volunteered as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist; however, he is not a member of the clergy. He was a volunteer that helped at the Boy Scout camp at Camp Yawgoog. He had the mandated Bureau of Criminal Information clearance in order to volunteer at the camp," the statement reads. "The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence offers prayers for healing of those affected by this situation and is fully cooperating with this ongoing investigation."
Peg Langhammer, executive director of Day One, a statewide support group for victims of sexual abuse and violence that offers services in several locations, including at the Ocean Community YMCA in Westerly, offered help for anyone affected by this case. The agency offers counseling and assistance navigating the criminal justice process for victims who choose to bring charges. The assistance includes accompanying victims when they make statements to the police, and during trials. "We're here for all victims regardless of what you chose to do," Langhammer said.
Langhammer said many victims are not ready to discuss the abuse they suffered until years after it occcurred. The average age of individuals who suffered sexual abuse as children to "tell anyone about the horrific things they've been through is 53," Langhammer said.
Statistically, Langhammer said, one out of every four girls and one out of every six boys in the United States is sexually abused. "If this was a disease we were talking about we'd be calling it an epidemic," Langhammer said. She went on to urge victims to get help.
"The most important message for victims is that they are not alone," Langhammer said.
Day One can be reached at 401-421-4100. The agency can also be reached through its website at www.dayoneri.org
Victims or those with information about Glawson are asked to call state police detectives at 401-764-5346.