NEWTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Applause erupted in a New Jersey courtroom Wednesday, after emotional remarks from a man who pleaded guilty to stabbing and killing the man he says molested him as a child.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, Clark Fredericks, 49, admitted to the stabbing that killed Dennis Pegg, who was his Boy Scout leader and a family friend decades ago.
The case has many asking whether Fredericks was right or wrong.
“From the time I was 8 years old until I was 12 years old, I was sexually assaulted and raped by Dennis Pegg,” Fredericks said in the Sussex County courtroom.
The confessed killer delivered a detailed, gut-wrenching account of what he said happened to him as a child, and what he did about it more than three decades later.
“It started with him wanting to touch my scar that I had through open-heart surgery at the age of 6,” Fredericks said. “It progressed to wrestling matches and eventually led to him raping me.”
Fredericks admitted that he killed retired correction officer and scoutmaster Pegg, 68, in Stillwater, New Jersey on June 12, 2012. No evidence of the childhood abuse was ever produced, but other men made similar allegations.
Fredericks said that Pegg had told him he’d had sexual relations with one of Fredericks’ friends, named Jeff, and that Pegg also showed Fredericks Polaroid photographs he said he had taken of other young men and boys unclothed. Jeff committed suicide in 1983, and Fredericks said he thinks sexual abuse by Pegg was to blame.
WEB EXTRA: Clark Fredericks’ Complete Statement To The Court
Friends in the courtroom sobbed as Fredericks talked about Pegg torturing and killing animals, threatening do the same to him if he “told anyone about our secret.” He said for many years, he would deny it whenever his mother and father asked if Pegg had hurt him even though they suspected it.
But Fredericks said because Pegg was a “respected law enforcement officer,” an “expert with guns,” and a leader in the Boy Scouts, he was “untouchable.”
“No one would believe my word over his,” he said.
Fredericks said throughout the decades to come, he would see Pegg around town – sometimes in the company of other young boys.
Then, as an adult, Pegg said his feelings of shame kept him quiet – until the trial started for serial child molester and former Penn State football coach football Jerry Sandusky.
“My reaction to seeing Sandusky get out of that car with his lawyer is that Dennis Pegg would never be held accountable,” Fredericks said. “The next day — June 12, 2012 — my shell cracked. My mind flooded with images, memories, anger, and mostly shame.”
Fredericks told the court his friend Bob Reynolds drove them here to Pegg’s house on Millbrook Road in Stillwater. The front door was open, and Fredericks walked in.
“At the end, I slit his throat,” Fredericks said.
There were no apologies, but Fredericks’ guilty plea on charges of passion/provocation manslaughter does away with a murder charge.
As Fredericks left the courtroom, there was eruption of applause.
Rose Funari of Blairstown said she applauded Fredericks “for coming out and standing up for himself.”
No one related to Pegg made any public statements. The prosecutors who agreed to the plea deal hoped it would bring closure.
“We feel it is a fair and appropriate result given all the circumstances,” said Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller.
The judge said the sentence, anywhere from five to ten years in prison, will be announced in September.
Reynolds also faces murder charges as an accomplice in the case, for allegedly driving Fredericks to the scene. He was not part of the plea deal, and is due back in court on Tuesday of next week.
Pegg served in the Boy Scouts from 1973 until 1980, but his name never appeared in any of the internal sex abuse files kept by the organization.