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Moose International CEO retires amid suit’s claims of sexual abuse

William B. Airey

William B. Airey

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Updated: January 24, 2013 6:34AM

MOOSEHEART — William B. Airey has retired as director general and chief executive officer of Moose International, a week after claims were made that he sexually abused a boy in the 1980s.

The Moose International Board of Directors announced Airey’s retirement Friday, and appointed Scott D. Hart, executive director of Mooseheart Child City and School, as the next leader of the 1.2 million member organization.

Airey’s resignation comes a week after a civil suit was filed in an Ohio court, alleging that Airey sexually abused a boy, who was not affiliated with Mooseheart, about 30 years ago. At the time, Airey was a member and volunteer with the Moose in Ohio.

A spokesman for Moose International had no comment regarding whether the resignation was influenced by that civil case, which alleges that Airey brought the boy, who was 12 at the time, to Moose-related functions and molested him twice. The suit also alleges that Moose International investigated Airey twice, in 1996 and 2007, regarding sexual misconduct with children, but took no action.

Airey began working for Moose International in 1983 and was named director general in 2006. He will remain with the organization through January.

Hart to step up

Meanwhile, Hart assumes his new duties as director general immediately.

Hart, 43, started his career with the Moose as an in-home caregiver on the Mooseheart campus in 1991, following his graduation from Illinois State University. He has served as Mooseheart’s executive director, in charge of all the functions of the school and children’s home, since 2003.

Hart promised he would continue to be involved at the school and with students.

“I enjoyed being in the school each day and coaching football, and the nice thing is I’m still right here on the campus, I’ll still be the cheerleader in the stands, being a support for them,” Hart said. “It’ll be different, it’ll be sad to have that part of the journey end.”

Hart’s tenure as executive director at Mooseheart has included the establishment of national standards for residential childcare facilities; the expansion of benefits for children on campus through both local and national programs; and oversight of a $10 million school renovation project scheduled to be completed in 2014 at the Mooseheart campus on Route 31 north of North Aurora.

This is the first time since the early 1980s, when former Mooseheart student Herbert Heilman took the job, that the director general’s seat has been filled by someone directly involved in Mooseheart, Hart said.

He said his major focus will now turn to the fraternal organization and building its membership, so that the Moose can continue its work for Mooseheart, the Moosehaven retirement facility in Florida, and in communities with Moose lodges.

“The big part is community based, working with organization in their local area to benefit cancer research, Little League baseball, youth soccer program, whatever their focus is,” Hart said. “Stepping into this new role, my focus will be to build the membership base. That’s what drives the organization and allows them to do some great things in their communities.”

Hart now assumes responsibility for Moose International’s five organizational units, the Loyal Order of Moose, the Women of the Moose, Mooseheart Child City and School, Moosehaven Retirement Community and Moose Charities, the organization’s fundraising arm.

Gary Urwiler, superintendent for Mooseheart Schools since 2003, will serve as interim executive director of Mooseheart Child City and School.

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