Correction March 5, 2014:In our initial account, we incorrectly stated the charges to which Matthew Bovee pleaded guilty. Bovee is serving nine years in prison for injury to a child in the third degree.
The family of a boy who was sexually assaulted three years ago at Camp La Junta in Hunt, Texas, has filed a lawsuit against the camp and its owner.
In the summer of 2009, a counselor named Matthew Bovee made the 11-year-old victim lie down with him in bed, shower up to six times a day, and endure "shower checks" afterwards that involved inappropriate touching and eventually, penetration, says the law firm representing the family. Bovee is now serving nine years in prison for
sexual injury to a child. injury to a child in the third degree. See "Parents Never Dreamed" [February 19, 2014].
In a letter postmarked the first day of camp, the boy wrote to his mom "it's not fun anymore...I want to go home," with descriptions of what Bovee was putting him through.
When the distressed parents called the camp about the letter, camp owner Blake Smith said they shouldn't talk to their kid and reassured them that he was only homesick. Unconvinced, they insisted, so Smith intentionally arranged a call in a crowded cafeteria with Bovee sitting right next to the boy. As Smith apparently planned, he didn't confess anything. In the end, he stayed the full two weeks, while Bovee's so-called "shower checks" began incorporating "body cavity searches," according to Bob Wynne, an attorney at Rusty Hardin & Associates.
Meanwhile Smith told other parents the boy was "emotionally troubled" and lying about the abuse. All of this from a camp advertising itself as a "moral, safe, entertaining and educational environment" that boosts campers' self-esteem.
The victim, who's now 13, is still feeling the emotional consequences of those two weeks. According to Wynne, "he's had to change schools, and he's in counseling with different psychologists and psychiatrists. He's had physical manifestations, too...difficulty breathing...nightmares...weight loss."
Smith and the camp are accused of "negligence for failing to implement policies to protect the boy, failing to supervise, and failing to properly investigate the allegations." The family is seeking actual and punitive damages in state district court.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.