INDIAN ISLAND, Maine — The Penobscot Indian Nation has asked for privacy as it continues to investigate accusations of “inappropriate behavior” by a Penobscot Nation Boys & Girls Club youth member toward another youth.
“Out of respect for our youth, community and internal tribal processes, we can offer no comment on this issue,” the office of the chief and council said in a press release late Thursday afternoon in response to interview requests over the past two days.
“While we respect our relationship with the press and certainly understand the desire to get more information, we are asking that you please respect our request on this very sensitive matter and allow our government and community the opportunity without interference to resolve this issue internally.”
Meanwhile, some tribe members are calling for community meetings and asking that the tribal government take a deeper look into the operations and policies of the club.
“Just because they’re a charity doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable,” Indian Island resident Lisa Montgomery said in an interview Thursday afternoon.
Montgomery said her son was enrolled in the club but that she pulled him out three or four weeks ago after she first heard about the accusations.
The Bangor Daily News is not elaborating on the accusations, as none of the rumors regarding the incident or incidents have been confirmed.
“It has been a continual problem that they’re not properly supervised,” Montgomery said, referring to the children.
She said she didn’t believe that the alleged incident was “a problem with the tribe,” but that this sort of incident could happen at any youth group in any town if the organization doesn’t have appropriate management or oversight.
Benjamin Collings, chairman of the club’s board of directors, said Wednesday in a prepared statement that Penobscot Nation officials and police were investigating allegations of “inappropriate behavior involving a youth club member and another youth.”
“The accused youth is prohibited from attending any programs or activities” held by the club until the investigation into the accusations is complete, Collings said.
The Boys & Girls Club requires background checks of all employees and volunteers who have direct contact with the youths they serve, he added.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Penobscot County district attorney’s office would neither confirm nor deny on Thursday whether they were involved in any recent investigations related to the Boys & Girls Club on Indian Island. State police did not return a voicemail Thursday afternoon asking if they were involved in the case.
The club has been shut down temporarily, but some parents on the island would like to see it shut down for good, Montgomery said. She said parents will be meeting in the coming days and that the group will take its concerns to the tribal council.
Montgomery argued that it should remain closed until members of the tribe have a chance to question the club’s board of directors and leadership. Right now, she said, she feels the club shouldn’t reopen without major changes in management and board membership.
“It is a great place,” Montgomery said of the club. “It does do a lot. If it wasn’t there, the kids would suffer.”
However, she said she believed the incident that closed the club was a result of mismanagement. Montgomery said she and other parents would call for a review — by tribal leaders or a third party — of everything from the club’s security policies to its finances.
The Penobscot Nation Boys & Girls Club is entirely funded through donations and grants in an effort to provide free activities and services to its members, according to the club’s website.
While the club’s doors are closed, Montgomery said the organization should find other programs for the children to participate in after school or when parents aren’t home to replace the Boys & Girls Club activities that no longer are available.