Boys and Girls Clubs and Sexual Abuse: Matthew Truhlar
The following is a summary of one of many cases across the country compiled in a Hearst Connecticut Media investigation of sexual abuse connected in some way to local affiliates of Boys & Girls Club of America, their staff, volunteers, members and/or attendees. Boys & Girls Club of America said that it does not keep a public list of sexual abuse incidents connected to clubs. If you have a story to share, or have information related to this or other incidents, contact us here.
A former instructor at a Boys & Girls Club in Cleveland served a one-year probation after he pleaded guilty in October 2018 to felonious assault of a minor in a procedural roller coaster that spanned several years.
Matthew Truhlar, 45, was indicted by Cuyahoga County prosecutors July 22, 2013, for rape, gross sexual imposition and two counts of kidnapping of an underage victim he met through the Boys & Girls Club back in the 1990s.
According to court documents, the charges against Truhlar span back to July 1993, when he allegedly raped a 15-year-old victim.
The victim, who said she didn’t know the attacker, was raped near the Willow School in Cleveland, according to police. A report with the Cleveland Police Department was filed July 23, 1993, and a rape kit was collected hours after the assault at a local hospital, according to a summary of the case contained in a 2016 appelate court decision.
In April 2013, investigators on the case received a notice from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation that a sample of DNA taken from Truhlar for undisclosed reasons in 2002 matched “DNA collected as part of the victim’s rape kit” from 1993. Truhlar was indicted in July 2013.
In a series of legal processes that took over five years, a trial court declared a mistrial and dismissed the charges against Truhlar, an appellate court revived the charges, and Truhlar eventually pleaded guilty in October 2018 to felonious assault of a minor. Truhlar received a one-year probation that, if violated, could have resulted in a five-year prison term followed by three years of probation. Records show he recently completed the probation.
“Safety is our absolute number one priority and it always will be,” said Ron Soeder, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. “Kids deserve to feel safe and it’s our responsibility to make sure they do.”
Soeder said the club conducts background checks on all employees and volunteers and provides regular training in safety and reporting protocols. The background checks are repeated annually. In addition, the club has enhanced security by adding more security cameras, monitors and fob-activated door locks, he said.
“Our organization just launched ‘The Power of One,’ a Redwoods group training program designed to help staff members keep kids safe, identify signs of sexual or physical abuse and take steps to prevent abuse,” Soeder said.