Investigation finds strong, credible evidence of abuse

SALISBURY — A report on allegations of sexual misconduct by former Salisbury Recreation Director Art Wilkinson concluded that “the people making allegations of abuse are credible, and that Arthur Wilkinson’s denials are not credible.”

The Salisbury Board of Selectmen, at a special meeting Wednesday, April 10, made public the report from attorneys Thomas J. Murphy and James J. Healy of Cowdery and Murphy LLC. The selectmen voted to publish the report, in its entirety, on the town website.

Cowdery and Murphy were hired by town attorney Thomas Marrion in late September 2018. That action followed the Sept. 10, 2018, meeting of the Board of Selectmen at which several people asked for an investigation of Wilkinson, who was recreation director from 1966 to 2005.

That request was prompted by an August 2018 interview of Robert Wallingford by Marshall Miles of Robin Hood Radio, in which Wallingford said he was sexually abused at age 12 by Wilkinson.

Wallingford is the only witness who is named in the report.

The report states that of 38 people interviewed, 11 “reported first hand that they had experienced unwanted, inappropriate sexual conduct by Arthur Wilkinson when they were young. The conduct they described by Wilkinson ranged from improper touching of their breasts, buttocks and genitalia through clothing and/or while swimming, to incidents of solo or mutual masturbation, all the way to attempted and actual penetrative sexual acts.”

The lawyers interviewed Wilkinson on Jan. 30, 2019. The report states: “We did not find Wilkinson’s denials credible.”

The lawyers note that they interviewed eight individuals, “several from the same family, who met or spoke with us to convey their strongly held views that the claims made against Arthur Wilkinson … were not consistent with the man they know.

“Although we do not doubt these individuals’ sincerely held personal beliefs about Wilkinson, they were not able to offer any evidence that addressed or refuted the specific allegations of the accusers.”

The report ends:

“In sum, multiple people credibly described circumstances that have not been shown to us to be false or inaccurate. On the other hand, Arthur Wilkinson offered no credible denials of their allegations. His own statements placed many of the complainants where they alleged they were harmed. And, he had no persuasive reason for why so many people — many without connections to each other —would align years after the fact to falsely accuse an innocent, long-retired individual. In our opinion, the preponderance of the evidence lies with those who have alleged misconduct by Arthur Wilkinson.”

The full report can be found online at www.salisburyct.us/reports/Confidential_Attorney-Client_Privileged_Memorandum-Investigation-Final-April2019.PDF

It can also be found by going to the town of Salisbury website at www.salisburyct.us; click on “town documents” at the top of the page and then click on “Cowdery & Murphy, LLC - Investigation Report” on the left side of the page.