A youth basketball coach at the Bangor Region YMCA was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy more than 40 years ago, but his victim says the YMCA was never held accountable for enabling the assault and failing to protect hundreds of children in its care.

Wayne Quimby, who is 57 and still lives in Bangor, filed a civil lawsuit against the Bangor YMCA in Penobscot Superior Court on Tuesday alleging the organization is liable for negligent supervision, sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The coach had already been convicted five years earlier of simple assault and battery, a charge Quimby said the YMCA should have been aware of.

The lawsuit is the latest in a string of civil claims filed after Maine repealed the statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims in 2021. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is currently considering several challenges to the law. A ruling could come any day and could affect dozens of cases – including Quimby’s.

His lawyer, Timothy Kenlan, said it was still important for Quimby to file his claim.

“Regardless of what happens, this is now out there and others can see his story and learn from it,” said Kenlan.


An attorney for the Bangor Region YMCA said in an email Tuesday that the organization should not be held liable for the abuse.

“Mr. Quimby’s claims are alleged to have occurred 45 years ago, and his complaint asserts that the alleged incident did not happen at the Bangor Y. While we certainly have compassion for any misfortunes that Mr. Quimby may have encountered in his life, we do not believe the Y should fairly be blamed for them,” Berney Kubetz wrote.

Kubetz said the nonprofit has “one of the strictest background checks in the State of Maine,” but would not answer other questions, including whether the agency ran background checks in the 1970s, because of the pending litigation.


Quimby was part of the YMCA’s “Nuggets” team in 1979. His coach, William Kearns (who was 24 at the time), was later convicted of sexually assaulting him after practice one day that December.

According to the complaint, the coach assaulted Quimby at Kearns’ house, where he had told the teen he could shower before the two went to a Black Bears hockey game in Orono.


Days later, Quimby said Kearns asked him if he wanted to go to another game and asked if he would bring a friend. Quimby got upset and reported the assault to a manager at the YMCA, who took no action, according to the lawsuit. When Quimby told his mother, she notified police and Kearns was arrested on Dec. 20, 1979.

Wayne Quimby, pictured in 1978 when he was 12. He was assaulted by his basketball coach in Bangor the following year and is now suing the Bangor YMCA for negligence. Photo courtesy of Berman and Simmons law firm

But the lawsuit argues that Kearns never should have been hired because he already had a criminal record. He was convicted in 1974 of simple assault and battery for a sex-related crime, according to Quimby’s complaint. The complaint doesn’t include any other details about the charge.

But Quimby believes the YMCA failed to run a background check on Kearns when it hired him, the lawsuit states.

“Had Defendant conducted a criminal background check of Kearns at any point prior to December 1979, it would have had actual and/or constructive notice of his criminal history of assault,” the complaint states.

Kearns was convicted of one count of unlawful sexual contact in February 1980 for assaulting Quimby, according to a background check from the Maine State Bureau of Identification. He was sentenced to a month in jail and two years of probation.

Kearns did not respond to a voicemail from a reporter Tuesday afternoon and is not a defendant in the civil complaint. He has never faced criminal charges again in Maine, according to the background check.



After the assault, Quimby said he began a “lifelong spiral into substance use disorder as a means of coping with his severe emotional injuries.”

Quimby said in a written statement that holding abusers and their enablers accountable is an important part of his healing process and he hopes it will help other organizations improve their own policies for preventing abuse. He said there were “hundreds” of other young people who attended the YMCA under Kearns’ supervision.

He declined through his attorneys to be interviewed Tuesday but encouraged other abuse victims to come forward if they are ready.

It’s unusual that Kearns was criminally prosecuted and sentenced for the 1979 assault – advocates for child sex abuse victims say a majority of cases don’t make it that far.

Kenlan, Quimby’s attorney, said his client believes the YMCA enabled Kearns and should be held accountable as enablers.

“Holding them accountable is a really important part of the healing process for some survivors,” Kenlan said. “It’s not only about attaining justice and accountability for my client – he also wants to make sure people take notice, and that they change.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.