Sexual abuse of newspaper boys in 1970s covered up by former Arizona Republic leaders, lawsuit says

A lawsuit claims newspaper circulation executives failed to act when told that newspaper delivery men in the 1970s were sexually abused by their advisers at The Arizona Republic and a sister newspaper, The Phoenix Gazette.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Gregory Brown, who the lawsuit says is now a Gila County resident who delivered copies of the newspaper as a youngster living in Phoenix in the 1970s.

It was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on Dec. 9.

The lawsuit names as defendants former traffic cops James Allen Robertson and Robert John Bresee – who were both convicted and sentenced for assault at the time of the alleged abuse. Also named in the lawsuit are Phoenix Newspapers Inc., Central Newspapers Inc., Gannett Co., Inc. and others.

Beyond Bresee and Robertson, the lawsuit alleges that supervisors at the time attempted to cover up the incidents and thwart a police investigation.

The Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Gazette were owned and operated by Central Newspapers. The Gazette ceased publication in 1997, after the editorial staff of the two newspapers merged in 1995.

Over time, Phoenix newspapers, along with many others, transitioned to adult-only delivery, ending the era of young carriers.

The newspapers were acquired by Gannett in 2000.

Gannett declined to comment.

Claims include battery, distress

Phoenix law firm Charland filed a civil suit, seeking unspecified damages in a jury trial. The allegations include assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent surveillance and racketeering.

According to the complaint, Robertson and Bresee sexually assaulted newspaper delivery men, took nude photos of them for pornographic purposes, coerced some into male prostitution, and did so with the knowledge and protection of senior newspaper officials. central.

The lawsuit described Robertson and Bresee as “members of a convicted pedophile ring” that targeted low-income boys from single-parent families, usually headed by a mother. Other traffic workers were also involved, according to the lawsuit.

Robertson and Bresee, according to the lawsuit, lured boys with gifts, loans and company-paid trips to places such as Disneyland, Sea World and the Old Tucson studio theme park, as well as outings in boat on lakes near Phoenix.

The two circulation managers, who oversaw the activities of the paperboys, also threatened physical violence, the lawsuit alleges.

Men were arrested, convicted in 1980

The lawsuit alleges the parents complained to three other senior executives at the newspaper’s circulation service and claims the three took no action.

He does not name these people as defendants, and at least two of them appear to have since died.

Robertson and Bresee were arrested and, in 1980, sentenced to prison on child molestation charges, according to online court and Department of Corrections records.

Brown, who was living in Phoenix at the time with her mother and two siblings, was sexually abused and forced to pose in nude photos, according to the complaint, saying it contributed to a deep sense of shame and his problem with alcohol, drugs, abuse and dropping out of school.

In 2019, Arizona lawmakers extended the statute of limitations for alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse. The law opened a window until December 31, 2020 for people over 30 to file a lawsuit.

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