Attorneys in such cases "often look very carefully to see what an organization could have or should have known, and the truth is in a lot of cases, the answer is nothing. These are sophisticated predators and they're very careful about what they do," said Max Kennerly, a Philadelphia attorney who has written about civil liability in sex abuse cases on his blog. He is not involved in the Red Sox case.
"The organization ends up negotiating from a public relations standpoint," Kennerly said. But while critics may think plaintiffs are "making a fuss to get some money out of it," Kennerly added, "that's also what causes organizations to rethink what they're doing."
"Social change doesn't happen in silence," he said.
Fitzpatrick's career with the Red Sox started in 1944 and lasted until his retirement in 1991. Since then, both the Red Sox and Orioles have changed ownership groups.
A team lawyer for the Red Sox told the Globe that Red Sox "have always viewed the actions of Mr. Fitzpatrick to be abhorrent" and that the club was "unaware of any specifics regarding the matters brought forward recently by these individuals but, given the sensitive nature of the matter, will not have further comment."
The former Orioles batboys were among the first African-American batboys employed by the team and worked in the visiting clubhouse in Memorial Stadium, which has been replaced by Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Though The Baltimore Sun does not generally identify alleged victims of sexual abuse, Shelton, 38, consented to tell his story. He now lives in Laurel works as a medical records employee at the Johns Hopkins University.
He said he got the job working for the team late in the 1989 season from the other man who now says he was abused by Fitzpatrick. Shelton, who was a fan of Mickey Tettleton, Billy Ripken and Jeff Ballard, carried bats, catcher's gear and helmets from the equipment room to the clubhouse, and served as a batboy during games.
He said he was alone in an equipment room before a game on June 15, 1990 — a game the Red Sox won, 4-3 — when Fitzpatrick walked in, closed the door, and started touching his arms. He said Fitzpatrick commented on his physique, and fondled his genitals and buttocks.
"I was scared of a lot of things at the time — I was scared of losing my job," Shelton told The Sun. "I was still in high school and had this great job, but I had to weigh, do I leave my job, or do I tell someone? I wanted to keep the job."
But when the Red Sox returned for a September series at Memorial Stadium, Shelton "dreaded that he [Fitzpatrick] was coming back, and tried to avoid him if at all possible," he said. But Shelton said he was abused a second time during that homestand, under similar circumstances to the first incident. Shelton quit the batboy job after the 1990 season.
Shelton said the experience left him with "trust issues." He does not allow his son to go to overnight camps and prefers that he not have any male physicians. "I'm there for all his practices, all his games," Shelton said.
He said he is telling his story because "I realized that this didn't just happen to me." When others came forward with allegations of abuse by Fitzpatrick, he said, "that had an impact. I felt like I wasn't the only one."
The other alleged Baltimore victim, whom the Globe identified as a 42-year-old federal security worker, told the newspaper he was 16 when he found himself alone in the equipment room with Fitzpatrick in 1986. He said he had asked Fitzpatrick for a smaller pair of uniform pants than the Sox had provided. He alleged Fitzpatrick shut the door, sexually abused him as he tried on a new pair of pants, then said, "You be good."
Garabedian said "it's hard to believe that neither the Red Sox nor the Orioles picked up on or had supervisors who didn't know about the sexual abuse occurring."
"Obviously, someone turned their back on these innocent children or decided not to care," he said.