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Former CFO of Italian Home for Children in JP accused of sexual abuse

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JAMAICA PLAIN, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- The former Chief Financial Officer of a home for troubled youth is under scrutiny amidst allegations of sexual abuse.

Tuesday, FOX25 spoke exclusively with the attorney for the accuser, who claimed George Forte, Jr. sexually abused him at the Italian Home for Children in Jamaica Plain over a period of three years.

"My client got to know George Forte, was groomed by George Forte, given gifts - things like that," said Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer known for his previous cases involving sexual abuse and the Catholic Church.

Garabedian said his client was 6 years old when he first came to the Italian Home for Children, an orphan with a troubled past.

"My client was lonely. He didn't have any parents in his life, he didn't have any love. He looked to George Forte for that," Garabedian said.

Garabedian told FOX25 his client claimed Forte molested him five separate times, both at the Italian Home for Children and at a house nearby. He said his client, now 40 years old, is ready to confront the alleged abuse and wants an apology.

"He's looking for some sort of acknowledgement that hey, I didn't do anything wrong, I was just a child," Garabedian said.

In a statement, the Italian Home for Children said, "This allegation about a former employee, although 30 years old, is deeply troubling, and Italian Home for Children takes this very seriously. We can confirm that the allegation was brought to the organization's attention in 2014, and we immediately hired outside counsel to oversee an investigation. This investigation found no evidence to support the allegation. Italian Home for Children is wholly devoted to the safety and well-being of the children in our care, and does not condone any behavior at odds with our all-important mission."

"Right now, they're just playing a shell game and there's no need for that," Garabedian said.

Garabedian confirmed his client reported the allegations to the Italian Home for Children in 2014, but said after the initial report, no lawyer or any other investigative body contacted him again.

"They ignored him. You've got these entities, such as the Archdiocese of Boston, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, turning their backs on children," Garabedian said.

FOX25 confirmed that while the Franciscan Sisters did not have administrative privileges at the home during the period of alleged abuse, they did have staff there, including one sister who was the principal of the school. In a statement, a spokesperson for the organization said "Missionary Franciscan Sisters take any allegation of sexual abuse very seriously and extend our prayers and support to the individual."

In 1980 and 1981, the Italian Home for Children was also listed as a charity of the Archdiocese of Boston in the Official Catholic Directory.

A spokesman told FOX25, "The Italian Home for Children is not an entity of the Archdiocese of Boston. By being listed in the Catholic Directory merely means it is a Catholic organization, much like religious orders and Catholic retreat centers."

"To say that the Archdiocese is not involved in this is ludicrous," said Dr. Robert Hoatson.

Hoatson founded and runs a New Jersey based non-profit called Road to Recovery, which helps victims of sexual abuse and their families.

Hoatson and other victims' advocates are planning a protest outside the Italian Home for Children to call on the organization and the Catholic Church for an apology.

"We expect much better treatment for that individual than what he's been given so far," Hoatson said. "People who cover it up or do not do anything about it are gonna be held accountable."

Forte, previously awarded recognition for his work at the Italian Home for Children, is also a scoutmaster and volunteer with two area Boyscout troops.

Fox 25 called Forte's home and spoke with a woman there, but neither she nor Forte responded to a request for comment on the allegations.

Officials at the Italian Home for Children would not comment on the exact date of his departure in February, or provide clarification for the reasons around it.

"It speaks for itself. All of a sudden he's gone? Where is he saying, I didn't do this?" Garabedian said.

Protesters plan to gather outside the Italian Home for Children at 11 a.m. Wednesday.