Former Sox clubhouse mgr. faces sex abuse charges

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Former Sox clubhouse mgr. faces sex abuse charges

From Comcast SportsNet

BOSTON (AP)A man who worked as a teenager in the Red Sox clubhouse with big-name players such as Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs said his dream job ended abruptly when the clubhouse manager sexually assaulted him.

Charles Crawford and another Massachusetts man are now accusing Donald Fitzpatrick of abusing them in the early 1990s and are seeking 5 million settlements from the team. The statute of limitations has expired for filing a lawsuit, and Fitzpatrick died in 2005.

During a news conference Monday, Crawford said Fitzpatrick assaulted him twice inside the clubhouse at Fenway Parkonce in an equipment room and once in a restroom. He was 16 at the time.

People need to know what happened, said Crawford, who agreed to have his name used. Its still mind-boggling to me.

Fitzpatrick had been accused of sexually abusing children earlier. In 2002, he pleaded guilty in Florida to attempted sexual battery on a child under 12. The team also settled a lawsuit with seven Florida men who said Fitzpatrick molested them during spring training beginning in the 1970s.

Crawfords lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said the newest allegations are believed to be the first time that Fitzpatrick has been accused of molesting boys at Fenway. The new allegations were first reported by The Boston Globe.

Garabedian said he sent the Red Sox a letter last month informing them of the new allegations and asking for the settlements.

Red Sox attorney Daniel Goldberg did not immediately return two calls seeking comment Monday, but in a statement he said the Red Sox have always viewed the actions of Mr. Fitzpatrick to be abhorrent.

When the team, then under a previous ownership group, became aware of the allegations against Mr. Fitzpatrick in 1991, he was promptly relieved of his duties, Goldberg said. He said the club does not have any specifics on the two recent allegations.

Crawford said he was thrilled when he got a job as a clubhouse attendant, running errands for the players, getting them food and cleaning up around the clubhouse.

It was a dream job for me, he said. It was the best job in the world for a kid.

Then one day, he asked for a baseball and Fitzpatrick led him to the equipment room, which was a locked room away from anyone else in the clubhouse, Crawford said.

Everything happened fast. I couldnt tell anybody, he said.

Garabedian said Crawford has had trouble holding jobs, served a short stint in jail for a drug conviction and fathered five children with five women.

Ive been running from a lot of things, Crawford said.

Crawford, now 36, said he never told anyone about what happened until 2006, when he revealed the abuse to his mother. He said he decided to come forward now after U.S. Sen. Scott Browns revelation earlier this year that he was molested by a counselor at a summer camp when he was 10 and the more recent sexual abuse allegations made against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Garabedian, who represented hundreds of victims during the Boston clergy sex-abuse scandal, said the teams lawyers have asked to meet with his clients.

Baseball is not more important than protecting the lives of innocent children against predators, he said.

The second man now coming forward asked not to be identified. Garabedian said he is an educator and is married with children.

The man, who worked as a bat boy in 1991, was traveling with the Red Sox in Anaheim, Calif., when another clubhouse attendant held a sign during a televised game that said, Donald Fitzpatrick sexually assaulted me.

At the time, team officials said that Fitzpatrick decided to take an indefinite leave of absence. He never returned.

In a phone interview Monday, the man said Fitzpatrick fondled and groped him at least a half dozen times.

He said he remembers some of the Red Sox players joking sarcastically about Fitzpatrick.

They would say, Did Fitzy touch your arm or did he touch your leg? and then laugh, the man said. I think they were joking because they sensed something was odd, and I think they knew he was strange.

Crawford said he would like to meet with the team owners and get an apology.

For Bears, interior OL a good strength to build on for 2017

For Bears, interior OL a good strength to build on for 2017

INDIANAPOLIS — A team coming off a 3-13 season doesn't usually speak of "strengths," if for no other reason than they usually didn't have many, or any at all. The Bears don't entirely see things that way.

A Bears team ostensibly committed to running the football tied for fourth in rushing average (4.6 yards per carry), and rookie tailback Jordan Howard wasn't the only "strength" behind that success, general manager Ryan Pace assessed Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. 

"I feel good about what we've done with our offensive line," Pace said. "You look at the interior offensive line [guards Kyle Long and Josh Sitton, and center Cody Whitehair] that we have, you know, I think it's set to be one of the better interior groups in the league.

"Of course there are more pieces we need to add, that's important. I think you can see the value of building a strong offensive line and what it does for the quarterback. In Dallas you have a great example of that."

On the surface, the Dallas example is enticing — the Cowboys went from 4-12 in 2015 to 13-3 in 2016 with the constant being an offensive line regarded as one of the best in the NFL. Four of the Cowboys' five regular starters in 2015 returned in 2016, with left guard La'el Collins the departure after being sidelined three weeks into the year due to a season-ending toe injury. 

First-round running back Ezekiel Elliott was a revelation and, coupled with that offensive line, allowed a soft landing for fourth round quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott took full advantage of that opportunity, throwing for 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions (in what's been discussed as the best rookie year for a quarterback in NFL history) while pushing the Cowboys to a 13-3 season. 

But as tantalizing as the 2016 Cowboys are, there's a flip side: The 2015 Cowboys still lost 12 games with the same offensive line. So what does that mean for the 2017 Bears?

The running game and offensive line strength is a good start, but it doesn't necessarily mean Pace will over-aggressively pursue free agents to add to the offense with decisions needed at quarterback (Pace described Jay Cutler's status as "fluid") and wide receiver (with Alshon Jeffery set to hit free agency). 

The larger strategy Pace hinted at in Indianapolis, then, is to mix in some veterans through free agency (the Bears do have loads of cap space, after all) but continue to focus on building through young talent. And, to go back to the Dallas example, it's worth noting the two most important pieces the Cowboys added in 2016 were through the draft. 

"There is a delicate balance between being aggressive and being decisive, but being responsible," Pace said. "I think you can always recover from the player you didn't sign; you can't recover from the player that you signed at the wrong price. I think we've got to be conscious of that."

Scenarios where Jay Cutler returns to Bears still in play: 'That's one of the options'

Scenarios where Jay Cutler returns to Bears still in play: 'That's one of the options'

INDIANAPOLIS – The Bears have nearly a dozen scenarios under study for addressing their quarterback situation in 2017 and beyond. An assumption has been that none of those include Jay Cutler.
 
Mmm, maybe...maybe not.
 
General manager Ryan Pace has talked candidly with Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, and has informed Cook and Cutler that efforts would be made to deal the veteran quarterback, according to various sources. But one reality is that Cutler is currently the only quarterback under an actual contract, and whether for negotiating purposes or whatever, the Bears have not ruled Cutler out for 2017.
 
"Yeah, that's one of the options, too," Pace confirmed on Wednesday at the outset of the NFL Scouting Combine. "At this point we pretty much have everything on the table. For us, to do it the responsible way, that's necessary."
 
Right now the Bears are perusing a fairly large "table," and even the Cutler option isn't a fully known commodity, given that he is still recovering from a torn labrum that ended his 2016 season.
 
Brian Hoyer is considered to have an inside track on the starting job by virtue of coaches thoroughly appreciating a quarterback who practices ball security. Hoyer has a career interception percentage of 2.2 and threw zero interceptions in 200 attempts last season before breaking his left arm in Green Bay.
 
In the process he earned perhaps the single most important, and glowing, endorsement outside of the front office.
 
"Brian's unique in that he makes very quick decisions," said coach John Fox. "He's very smart, been in a lot of different systems. He's been on the field a lot in the NFL. I thought he did a good job. He didn't have an interception on the season, which for the number of passes he threw, I think probably ranked No. 1."
 
After Cutler's promising 2015 season working under Adam Gase, Fox praised Cutler as one of the main surprises in his first year as Bears coach. The specifics of Fox's praise of Hoyer offer a tip as to his thinking now – defense-based coaches commonly want to adopt ball-security quarterbacks – but he did not speak of Cutler solely in the past tense.
 
After two years of Cutler, "I think the perception in the building may be a little different than outside from what I've gathered," Fox said. "But I think he's very smart; he's a very tough competitor. I think he's had to deal with some injuries; unfortunately, they're part of football. But he's bounced back quickly from all the ones we've experienced in the last two years. But I think the competitive nature of Jay, I've been very impressed with."