Maryland Farms YMCA hit with sexual assault lawsuit

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A man in Williamson County is suing both the Maryland Farms YMCA as well as a former advisory board member of the Brentwood YMCA. He alleges that the individual sexually assaulted him at the Maryland Farms Y on at least three occasions, and that the organization did nothing about it when he complained.

Adam Boswell filed the suit in Williamson County on July 8 alleging that Jack Dabney approached him a total of four times in either the Jacuzzi pool or the steam room at the Maryland Farms YMCA. During the first encounter, on July 10 2015, Dabney is described in the claim to have “aggressively and forcibly reached into Plaintiff’s clothing and sexually assaulted Plaintiff.”

Just one week later, on July 17 2015, Boswell entered the steam room “where again Defendant Dabney approached him and grabbed his genitals.” At this point, Mr. Boswell reported both incidents to staff at the Y who told him they were aware of the individual and that Boswell’s wasn’t the first complaint they’d received.

Seven months later Dabney is alleged to have approached Boswell in the steam room again. “On or around February 12 2016, Plaintiff entered the steam-room at the YMCA and was again approached by Defendant Dabney,” the statement reads, “who grabbed his leg in an attempt to sexually assault Plaintiff.” Boswell again reported the incident, this time to the executive director at the Y.

In both instances, he was assured the organization would ensure that he and every other patron would be protected in the future.

One week later, Plaintiff Boswell alleges that Defendant Dabney intimidated and harassed him at the location. He subsequently filed a police report.

It is important to note that this is a civil lawsuit, filed just last week, and that none of the allegations have been proven in court.

Boswell is suing for $1 million and requests a jury trial, to whom he’ll also ask for punitive damages.

The Nashville area YMCA centers have come under scrutiny in the past regarding unwanted sexual touching in the men’s rooms. Over ten years after its initial publication, the story “Why I Canceled My YMCA Membership” consistently remains one of the most viewed articles on the O&AN website.

In it, the writer Cooper Pfeene extensively recounts his experience at the Green Hills branch of the YMCA wherein he was accosted by an older gentleman.

What follows happened in the space of twenty seconds or so. I took my shower supplies to the counter by the sinks, setting them there so I could dry myself. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an older man approaching. He was fully dressed and carrying a black comb in his right hand. Though I was by no means in his way, I stepped farther to the right and turned my back to him, thinking I was being polite, which, in a way, I suppose I was. This, like a much milder version of dropping the soap in a federal pen shower, was a mistake. While drying my hair and face, he grabbed my left ass cheek and squeezed like he was testing the ripeness of produce.

From there, Pfeene shares a story similar to the one in the Williamson County lawsuit. YMCA staff said they were aware of the individual in question and his men’s room proclivities, yet did nothing to support the complainant or any other patrons.

Also from the O&AN archive: in 2005 Terry Lee Derrick wrote about his experience at the downtown YMCA and its decision to close the outdoor pool but only on Sundays because, as he was told, “we have not been able to get these behaviors under control.” Derrick wrote:

I decided to speak with the management about this situation. Without much prompting, [the manager] was very forthcoming about the inappropriate behaviors in the locker room. He said that those “incidents” (which it seems no one has actually been caught doing or kicked out for) are indeed the reason for closing the pool on Sundays. I responded that a few people who don’t know how to comport themselves shouldn’t be allowed to run the gym, i.e., to change the rules for all. He agreed but said that these kind of problems (I presume the complaints of sexual impropriety) have become so rampant and overwhelming, especially on Sunday afternoons, that he was at a loss as to what else to do.

Derrick was particularly frustrated because his own access to the pool was being limited by the careless use of the facility by others. He ended his screed by admonishing those in our community who might be contributing to the lewd activity.

If indeed there are some gay men (as opposed to married gay men who are probably not known by the gay men and are not reading this article) who are acting out at the various Y’s, they need to stop it, to put it plainly. I grew up in the South as well, and I know what it is like, but the Y is not the place to cruise and make out. And if we (gay men) see someone doing stupid things in public then we either need to point out that what they are doing is offensive, and/or inappropriate, or report it to management ourselves.

The lawsuit filed in Williamson County makes no reference to the stated sexuality of either the plaintiff or defendant. The Maryland Farms YMCA is included in the lawsuit, according to the plaintiff, because it was negligent in hiring and training employees, in screening the membership, and in its security measures to ensure patrons are protected from those previously identified as harmful.

 

Boswell v. YMCA and Dabney

 

See also:

Inside Nashville’s Men’s-Only Club

Why I canceled my YMCA membership

The ‘Y’ isn’t the place to act like you’re at a bathhouse