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'I delivered my son to the devil': Dad of Kanakuk camper wants statute of limitations tossed out

Posted at 4:15 PM, Feb 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-23 22:39:05-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It's been 16 years since Joe Alarcon dropped off his son with Pete Newman, director of Kanakuk Kamps in Branson, for an overnight stay.

Ashton, 11, dressed in a green hat and gray t-shirt, while sporting a large smile and dimples, drove away on a golf cart with Newman.

Alarcon took a picture of the two and left for the night.

It's an image permanently imbedded in Alarcon's mind and a single decision that would forever impact his family.

"​​I delivered my son to the devil himself," Joe Alarcon said. "I took a picture and we were happy."

Alarcon reached a settlement with Kanakuk Kamps in regards to what he said happened to his son while in Newman's care.

Ashton didn't tell anyone what happened to him. Not even his parents. Once Newman was arrested for sexually abusing other children at the camp, Ashton came forward and told his parents he was abused by Newman.

Newman was eventually convicted of sexually abusing several campers, which included charges of sodomy.

It's not uncommon for kids of sexual abuse to keep what happened to them a secret. But, by the time they're ready to tell their stories of abuse, it's often too late to get justice.

In Missouri, children have until their 26th birthday to file a civil lawsuit against an entity deemed responsible for the abuse.

A newly introduced piece of legislation would change the statute of limitations for suing an entity to 55 years old.

"I hope this is the beginning of a lot of changes," Alarcon said.

Since Newman's conviction, several former camp-goers have come forward saying they too were abused by Newman.

Many of them, like Ashton, listed as John Doe in lawsuits, reached settlements with Kanakuk and also signed a non-disclosure agreement.

One of them, is Logan Yandell, who claimed Newman started abusing him at the age of nine.

Yandell recently filed a lawsuit claiming Joe White, the owner of Kanakuk, knew Newman was abusing kids and still allowed him to work with children, and even promoted Newman.

Yandell claims Kanakuk fraudulently convinced his parents to sign the disclosure by omitting what it knew.

While the extended statute of limitations would give survivors of child sexual abuse, like Yandell and Ashton, more time to tell their stories, Alarcon said no limitation should exist.

"I think it's time to start sending a message to all these individuals, these companies, these entities, there's no place for you here," Alarcon said.

Like Ashton, Yandell did not tell his parents he was sexually abused until Newman's conviction.

"That was such a relief," Yandell said. "I had been carrying that on my own back for many, many years."

While a statute of limitations puts parameters on the amount of time a person has to come forward, Alarcon points out it's something that impacts families long-term.

'It's taking everything for us to wake up, every day. To go to school. To go to work, "Alarcon said. "Our journey is not over and unfortunately it has started again."

White did not respond to the I-Team's request for an interview. However, Kanakuk has a statement on its website claiming no one knew Newman was abusing kids until he confessed prior to his conviction.

Alarcon wants state lawmakers to make changes beyond extending the statute of limitations. He wants the statute to be removed altogether.

​"They ruined people's lives and lives will forever be changed," Alarcon said. "If our lives are forever changed— then victims should be able to speak forever."