Holyoke’s 1920 Scandal, Part III

by Laurel | April 12th, 2013

30 April 1920

Girls Testify in Case Against King
Boy’s Club Superintendent Arraigned in Police Court Charged Technically With Assault

April 20, 1920 — Hearing on a charge of assault on six girls, their ages ranging from 9 to 14 years, preferred against George W. King, superintendent of the Holyoke Boys’ Club, was unfinished this afternoon after the Commonwealth had put in about a score of witnesses and the defense two character witnesses. By agreement, the hearing went over until Tuesday, when Judge Robert C. Parker of Westfield will again preside. Attorney T. D. O’Brien appeared for the prosecution and Attorney N. P. Avery for the defendant. The testimony of the girls was in some points conflicting, but in general was to the effect that Mr. King at various times at the Boys’ Club gymnasium, where there are baths, rubbed them down with towels while they were in a nude condition and also kissed them. The assault charge is a technical one, as it is not contended by the Commonwealth that the defendant offered the girls violence in any form. The alleged assault occurred between October 4, 1919 and February 14, 1920. From testimony introduced by the Commonwealth through Fred S. Webber, president of the club, it was learned that he first heard of the accused assisting in the baths of the girls three of four years ago. He said that at that time he spoke to Superintendent King about it and that King was told that if girls were to be allowed the privilege of baths at the club, it should be under female supervision. This action was the result of rumors, he said, and he made no personal investigation at the time. About a year later the matter was called to his attention again and he again had a talk with King and, he testified, he told him practically the same thing.

About six weeks ago the matter was again called to his attention, and he told the accused that it had been reported that he had been caring for girls after baths. He further told the accused that the only action that could be taken was to rule the girls out of there altogether. “I asked him if the rumor was true, and he said it was,” witness testified. He then forbid King absolutely to continue the practice or to care for the girls in any way. It appeared to him that a wrong construction might be placed on the matter. In this view the accused agreed, witness said.

There was a consultation between the court and lawyers after the Commonwealth had rested its case and adjournment was agreed upon. The defense put on two character witnesses only, Mr. King not as yet having been called to the stand. Many well-known Holyoke people were spectators, including Rev. J. C. Sycamore, Mrs. Elizabeth Towne and Librarian Frank G. Wilcox. There were numerous sharp tilts between the lawyers.

The first girl called, one of the complainant, in offering her testimony, said that she is 11 years old and an attendant of the Park Street School. She differed somewhat as to what date she had visited the Boys’ Club, telling the prosecution it was on October 4 and the defense that it was on a Saturday in December. She said that, in company with another girl, she went to the Boys’ Club and proceeded upstairs to the gymnasium, where a number of games were played. She then went downstairs and took off her clothes and prepared for a bath. When asked it Mr. King was there the girl testified that King brought soap to the girls, giving the number of bathers as 12 or more. She said that her companion washed her and that after the bath King came into the presence of the bathers. She said that at that time all of the girls with the exception of two were nude. She said that was the first and last time she visited the Boys’ Club headquarters.

On the cross examination, at the request of Attorney Avery, the girls pointed out Mr. King and said that she did not ask anyone at the Boys’ Club if she could be admitted to the building. She said that all the girls in the party took a bath when she was present, that there was a little boy and girl with their clothes on, but that they were upstairs.

When asked to whom she had talked, when asked about the case, the girl said she talked with Inspector Edward Gilday of the detective bureau of the local police department. That the last conversation was held in the office of Miss Curran, principal of the Park Street School. Those present were Inspector Gilday, Policewoman Mary McMahon, Miss Curran and another man, whose name she could not recall. When asked how Mr. King happened to enter the bathing room, she said that someone had called him to turn on the cold water.

The second witness, a girl of 12 years, an attendant at the Mater Dolorosa school, was the companion of the first complainant at the time she visited the Boys’ Club. She said that after the girls had taken their baths, Mr. King wiped their heads and back. She said that the girls did not request Mr. King to do this. She said that Mr. King wiped a number of them, and that she had been a visitor at the Boys’ Club since she was about five or six years old.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

List of Articles on the “Holyoke’s 1920 Scandal” Series:

Holyoke’s 1920 Scandal, Part I — King’s Conduct is Basis of Inquiry
Holyoke’s 1920 Scandal, Part II — King is Arraigned Under Six Counts
Holyoke’s 1920 Scandal, Part III — Girls Testify Against King
Holyoke’s 1920 Scandal, Part IV — George W. King is Acquitted
George W. King Discharged on All Complaints
George W. King, Head of Holyoke Boys’ Club, Dead

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