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Easton Connecticut Residents Want Accused Predator’s Name Taken Off Park

On Behalf of | Nov 12, 2012 | Firm News, Sexual Abuse |

The following article was featured in the CT Post.  Since the article was written the Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to change the parks name on November 9, 2012.  The article shows how difficult it can be for survivors of sexual abuse to come forward.  The article is below. Ted  Alexander Jr. always was the last one dropped off after Boy Scout meetings. The driver, his Boy Scout leader, would take the 8-year-old to a parking lot  on Black Rock Turnpike and they would wrestle in the car. Sometimes, the man  would shove Alexander’s head into Toth’s crotch. The man was Stephen  Toth.

Shortly after his death in 1985, the town named a park after him. Many knew  Toth for helping children, serving on the Parks  and Recreation Commission and volunteering his time to the Boy  Scouts and Little League.Others say his reputation is tainted and want the name of Toth Park changed.The Parks and Recreation Commission is scheduled to vote on the change  Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Helen  Keller Library. The park is at the intersection of Black Rock Turnpike and  Redding Road.The commission received numerous emails and petitions from residents in favor  of changing the park’s name, said Commissioner Steven  Lichtman.Elizabeth  Wenzel, a resident, said she collected about 700 signatures on a petition  she started in September. “It just doesn’t seem logical to have a park named  after someone who may have treated children badly,” she said Wednesday  afternoon.Although Toth never was sued or convicted on charges of child abuse, the  speculation is enough of a reason to rename the park, she said. “It’s not my  mission to say that he’s guilty,” she said. “My mission stops when the name  comes down.”Residents have suggested changing the park’s name back to Easton Town Park or  Aspetuck Park, Wenzel said.Alexander and at least one other man who said Toth molested them began asking  commissioners to change the name of the park in 2004, he said.Alexander met Toth when he was 8. Toth was his bus driver and owner of the  school bus company, he said. Alexander accepted Toth’s invitation to join the  Boy Scout troop he led.”I thought of this guy like a grandfather,” said Alexander, now 64 and living  in Vermont.But commissioners told Alexander in 2004 that his story was too vague. “They  didn’t believe me,” he said.Alexander never said anything about the incidents to his parents. Alexander’s  father, Theodore  G. Alexander Sr., 82, had no idea Toth was abusing his son in the 1950s and  1960s, he said Wednesday. “It’s a good thing I didn’t know about it. He would  have died sooner,” he said. “He was a big guy, but that wouldn’t have  mattered.”Michael  Powel, who said Toth also assaulted him, traveled to Connecticut from his  home in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 2004 to urge the commission to take Toth’s name  off the park. Powel, who died in 2008 from brain cancer, said Toth tied him up,  blindfolded him, performed sexual acts on him and photographed him in  compromising positions. The abuse started after he joined his Boy Scout troop in  1968 and continued for three years, sometimes at the park named after him, Powel  said in 2004………Powel was the driving force behind getting the name of Toth Park changed,  Alexander said.Les  Eckert, a retired police lieutenant for the Easton  Police Department, also came forward in 2004 and said Toth tried to tie him  up when he was a boy. After hearing their testimony, John  A. Cunningham, the commission chairman at the time, said the case was open  and the commission needed more evidence.Gary  Simone, who has been the town’s parks and recreation director for 17 years,  said Wednesday that he remembered the allegations from 2004. “We had our  doubts,” he said.There are people who still speak highly of Toth, a World War II veteran who  served in the D-Day invasion at Normandy and received accolades from author and  activist Helen  Keller, he said.Simone said he’s not taking the allegations lightly, but he wants the process  to be fair and wants to do the right thing.”Thomas  Jefferson was (having sex with) all of the slaves,” he said. “Should we take  him out of the history books?” 



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