BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI ) – Dan Christian said he kept his childhood sexual abuse a secret for more than four decades.
“Before this week, I haven’t spoke to anybody about this ever, in 40-something years,” he said in a Boston-area news conference Monday
Christian, now 50 years old and a grandfather, said he was sexually abused by convicted child rapist Wayne Chapman in the 1970’s. News of Chapman’s potential release from prison prompted him to tell his story publicly for the very first time.
“Him getting out of jail, knowing he could hurt other kids — I got two grandkids now, it would kill me inside,” he said, taking a long pause to compose himself. “If he was to get out and hurt somebody else, in my mind, I couldn’t take that.”
Christian, a Rhode Island native and resident, said he was just 7 years old when the abuse began. He said he grew up in a poor Providence family. His mother, an alcoholic, was relieved when the local 4H Club and a man by the name of Wayne Chapman offered her son the chance to go on group outings. Christian said Chapman preyed on the lower-class boys he was supposed to be caring for.
“He’d put the kids out on a raft and he’d tie a rope to the raft and let it go out on the water,” Christian said as he recalled trips to Lincoln Woods. “I’d used to say, ‘What happens to the kids that stay and don’t go out on the raft?’ And one day, I found out what happened to the kids that stayed there. You see, he’d have them out on the raft, so he’d knew where they were, and then he’d take people like me, a child like me, back into his truck and sexually molest us.”
Christian said Chapman threatened to kill him and his family if he ever talked about what happened.
“I’d seen pictures where he had children tied to trees, and I’m sure they were dead children, and he told me I’d be like them if I ever said anything,” Christian said.
Christian said he thought for a long time he was the one who had done something wrong. He said Chapman abused him multiple times before he was arrested on charges out of Massachusetts. Chapman also faced multiple charges in Rhode Island before he was extradited.
“The guy completely wrecked my life,” Christian said, speaking alongside Wendy Murphy, the Boston attorney for Chapman’s victims.
Murphy has been fighting Chapman’s release, filing appeals to try and keep him behind bars. On Monday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an order inviting Attorney General Maura Healey to submit an amicus brief in the case, citing “the substantial public importance involved… the considerable amount of public attention the case has generated, and the important legal issues at stake.” Murphy called it a “huge victory” and said she hasn’t seen such an order from the SJC in her entire law career.
As she and the victim’s fight to keep Chapman behind bars, Chapman’s attorney is calling for the 70-year-old’s release, contending his client is old, frail and has served his time.
Christian hopes telling his story will help keep Chapman right where he is.
“I want him to know he was my boogeyman for 40 years,” he said. “But I’m going to be his boogeyman for the rest of his life.”