Across the street from Poe Park in the Fordham section at 2605 Grand Concourse is a residential building providing housing for low- and middle-income area residents. It’s been there since 2019 with no semblance of what was there prior.
But decades before the building was even an idea, 2605 Grand Concourse was home to the Father Duffy Squires traveling basketball program — coached and administered by one man for nearly 50 years — where according to court documents, hundred of boys were estimated to have allegedly experienced rampant sexual abuse at the hands of the late Kenneth McLaughlin.
The building was sold in 2005, a year after McLaughlin’s retirement led to the end of the program.
In March 2021, a lawsuit was filed in Bronx Supreme Court against the Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus — who oversaw the Father Duffy teams — where Jeffrey Davis and four other victims alleged abuse at the hands of McLaughlin and claims that the organization did not stop or prevent the abuse from happening.
McLaughlin died in 2015 at the age of 93, and many of his alleged victims told the Bronx Times they felt “he never paid” for his crimes. But New York’s one-year lookback window for sexual abuse opened up legal avenues for those impacted by McLaughlin.
Signed into law by then Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Feb. 14, 2o19, New York’s Child Victims Act allowed for a one-year window that extended the statute of limitations for a survivor of child sexual abuse in criminal and civil cases, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred. Prior to that, survivors of child sexual abuse had only up to five years to bring a civil lawsuit against their alleged abuser, and the five-year time period started after the victim turned 18 years old.
The act was extended in 2020 before ending in August 2o21.
Davis, the only plaintiff in the case to identify himself, alleged that McLaughlin’s sexual abuse included forcible touching of his genitals and being forced to undress in front of the coach.
Davis’ attorney Jennifer Marsh told the Bronx Times that the case was settled to be “resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties” late last year. But the scars of McLaughlin’s abuse still linger for many who don’t feel any resolution or satisfaction.
Neither party disclosed the terms of the settlement when asked by the Bronx Times.
Two Father Duffy Squires members from the 1980s, whose identities were withheld, said that McLaughlin would take them into a separate room after practices — under the guise of a “locker room chat” — and would force them to undress and be forced into sexual situations.
Other former members, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Bronx Times that they described long battles with depression, sexual and physical inadequacy and overwhelming shame that followed them into their adult years.
When asked by the Bronx Times how Knights of Columbus’ Youth Protection service handles allegations of sexual abuse against the Knights of Columbus and its affiliated groups and programs, they declined to comment.
In previous statements about the case, Knights of Columbus said they are committed to preventing sexual abuse, promoting the healing of survivors, and strengthening their Safe Environment Program, which includes a hotline and notification of abuse to local diocese.
“He took advantage of us. He took our innocence, took our youth, and no one who had the power to stop it, did anything about it,” said a former Squires player who chose not to reveal his identity but was on the team roster from 1992-94. “One of my childhood friends, took his own life when he was in 20s, because after McLaughlin’s abuse, he never felt right.”
McLaughlin, a graduate of Regis High School and Fordham Law School, joined Boyd Council No. 326 Knights of Columbus in April 1946 and became involved with that organization’s youth program, the Father Duffy Squires Circle No. 186, serving as chief counselor and youth director and served in that position from 1946 until 2004.
McLaughlin was also a World War II veteran who served as a U.S. Army lieutenant in Europe, according to his obituary.