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Horrors of Camp: What Parents are Failing to Ask and the Risks their Kids are Facing.

It was a story KPRC broke that certainly got our attention – as well as the attention of parents all over the Houston area. In it, KPRC shared the terrifying story of a young Houston boy who was molested while at a popular Houston area summer camp. Following the story, we dove into what happened in Houston but also what is talking place across this country.

We were surprised to learn that camps are not regulated in the same way as daycares or schools. We were also shocked to learn that this is an issue that has hit nearly every single state across this county.

With that in mind, parents, as you make camp arrangements for your most valuable family members this coming summer, we ask you to please start asking questions.

What do you know about the camp?

  • The camp’s certification?
  • The level of training for their staff?
  • Their policy on camp counselor drinking or drugs on camp property?
  • Their efforts to ensure counselors who oversee swimming activities are life-guard certified? Or who oversee hunting activities can properly teach gun safety training?
  • Do they have policies regarding taking photos of your children and posting them on social media? Or even talking about your children on social media?
  • And most importantly, what plans are in place for children to properly make an outcry in the event of a tragic issue? Who oversees those outcries? The camp themselves or an outside agency?

There’s so much we need to be asking. To see the local story, click here:

But also, to see what’s happening nationally, take a look at what we’ve found:

Molestation by Camp Counselors is a National Problem:

  • Alabama
  1. William Knott (48), Aleshia Moffett (42) and John David Young (55) at Alabama Boot Camp Saving Youth (2017)
  • Alaska
  1. Eric Hafen at Camp Fire USA Alaska Youth Camp in Anchorage, Alaska (2010)
  • Arizona
  1. Mark Johnstone (34) City of Peoria’s Summer Recreational Program (2008)
  2. Douglas Cherry (18) at a Maricopa County summer camp as a camp counselor (2014)
  3. Christian Salvador Turcios (28) at Pheonix First Assembly of God and Highlands Church in Scottsdale as a church camp counselor and baby sitter (2014)
  • Arkansas
  1. Coty Shawn Penter at Bethel Church Camp (2017)
  • California
  1. Evin “Devin” Blanchard (24) at YMCA in San Francisco 2016
  2. Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla (29) at South Bay Science Camp For Kids (did not reference check), Walden West in Saratoga, and possibly YMCA article about failing to check references – article about amnesty granted to the DOCA counselor –
  3. Steven Michael Dolan at Walden West (article from 2015)
  4. Sean Justin Lee (23) at Boy Scout Camp in the Cedar Glen area (2015)
  5. Richard Guinto (32) at summer camps in San Jose. He was convicted on 87 counts! (2017)
  6. Scott Durzo (49) at Scott Durzo’s Total Sports Camp (2005-2009)
  7. Ronald Chad Williams (37) at San Marcos Christian Camp (Crimes occurred in 2005 sentenced in 2015)
  8. Nicholas Lhermine (22) at Morgan Hill YMCA Camp, YMCA Paradise Valley Elementary Child Care Center (2013)
  • Colorado
  1. Ian Walker (24) at Beaver Creek Youth Camp (2013)
  2. Tristan Horton (21) at Camp Verde (2017)
  • Connecticut
  1. Jason Betensky (27) arrested in Connecticut because of obscene photos taken at a North Caroline camp
  2. Yasmina Doty, Emily Simmons and Kylie Bivrell-Walsh at Monroe’s MBC Olayground Camp Counselors (2008)
  • Delaware
  1. Scott Feiner (18) at French Woods Performing Arts Camp in Hancock, Delaware (2015)
  • Florida
  1. Jarrett Clifton, Rose Patton James and Kemon O’Brien all abused child with autism at Gulf Point Recreational Center (2017)
  2. Michael Nathan Jones (25) at Forest Hills Elementary School Camp (2016)
  3. Nathan Gorzelanczyk (31) at various facilities (2016)
  4. Sean Douglas Stern (35) at Belton Christian Youth Center soccer camps in several locations of Florida (2016)
  5. Sylvester Peronne (19) at United Camp 2015 church camp in Broward, Florida (2016)
  • Georgia
  1. Edward Spencer A CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER at Southern Christian Leadership Council’s Summer Slam Summer Camp (2016 article)
  2. Zachary Scott Anderle (21) at a Woodland Christian Camp and Retreat Center in Temple, Georgia (2013)
  • Hawaii – N/A
  • Idaho
  1. Kevin G. Sloniker (30) at Immaculate Conception Church in Post Falls, Idaho (2015)  and
  • Illinois
  1. Cherie Carlson (abuse occurred in 1996 – 1997 but reported in 2013) at Camp Awana
  • Indiana
  1. 7 year old camper physically, sexually, and mentally abused an 8 year old camper at a summer camp hosted by Camel-Clay Parks and Recreation (2017)
  2. Zachary Didierymca at Camp Tecumseh (2015)
  3. Purdue University’s Camp Dash closed due to complaints from campers including attempted rape, sexual assault, voyeurism and distribution of child pornography. (2017)
  • Iowa
  1. Sean Brandt (32) Camp Rock in Redington, Iowa (2017)
  • Kansas
  1. Counselor from England (18) at Camp Wood YMCA in Chase County, Kansas (2016)
  • Kentucky
  1. Unnamed counselor at Camp Victory in Somerset, Kentucky (2010)
  2. Ricky Harris III drowned at Transylvania University Camp in Fayette County, Kentucky (2014)
  • Louisiana
  1. Mike Latham (46), camp director of Harris Baptist Conference and Retreat Center, in northwest Louisiana (2012)
  2. Heather Daughdrill (28) of Westlake, Louisiana at unnamed summer Bible school camp. (2011)
  • Maine
  1. Zach Tomaselli (23) at unnamed Maine summer camp (2011) and
  2. Michael Newton (58) at unidentified camp in Casco, Maine for children with life-threatening illnesses (2005) and
  • Maryland
  1. John Luis Casumbal Valenzuela (43) at Holton-Arms Creative Summer Camp (2015)  and…24044.26571.0.28420.….0…1c.1j2.64.psy-ab..0.0.0….0.fYJuFwwxc8A
  2. Steven Krawatsky at unnamed Frederick County camp (2018)
  • Massachusetts
  1. Richard Perkins Smith (65) at Cape Cod Summer Camp (2013)
  2. Charles R. Devita at Camp Good News (several decades) – also the camp Sen. Scott Brown attended. Devita committed suicide when being investigated
  • Michigan
  1. Matthew Kuppe (22) at Jewish Community Center Camp. (2017)
  2. William Nealy at Cran-Hill Ranch near Big Rapids, Michigan (2016)
  • Minnesota
  1. Scott F. Fortier (37) at Circle R Ranch Camp (2017) and
  2. William Allan Jacobs molested boys over an 18 year period. His employers knew of his sexually deviant behavior, but he was allowed to continue:  The headmaster at Breck School urged parents to keep the matter private; he was allowed to continue molesting after YMCA recommended he be treated at a facility due to ‘pedophilic tendencies”; the Blake School felt he could safely work with children as long as he wasn’t sleeping in the same room with them.  Unbelievable! (2010)
  • Mississippi
  1. John Edward Ellis (17) at CC Ranch in Madison, Mississippi (2016)
  • Missouri
  1. Peter Newman, camp director, at Kanakuk Camps (2013)
  2. Lee J. Bradberry(22) at Kanakuk Camps (2011)
  3. Robert Lall (26) at St. Peter’s Rec Center and Camp Gator in Lake St. Louis (2016)
  • Montana
  1. Kendle Burgos (15) at Camp Life Light in Great Falls, Montana (2017)
  • Nebraska
  1. Wrestler was sodomized at a summer camp while several watched. The incident was covered up by the school district.  Victim was called a” liar and rumor spreader.”  (2012)
  • Nevada – N/A
  • New Hampshire    
  1. Kirstie Beard (25) at the Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, New Hampshire (2016)
  • New Jersey
  1. William Esker (22) at unnamed camp (2017)
  2. 16 year old counselor (name withheld) at a Neil Klatskin Day Camp at Kaplen JCC (2014) and
  3. Robert Dion Fayte Williams (24) at Hardwick YMCA Camp (2005)
  • New Mexico – N/A
  • New York
  1. Jay Marcello (25) at Kewal Day Camp in Melville (2017)
  2. Keith Meyn (34) also at Kewel Day Camp on 112 counts of sex crimes involving children(2016)
  3. David Greenburg (37) also at Camp Kenwall (2017)
  4. Nicholas Maroney (20) at YMCA Genesse/Camp Hough (2017) Incident also involved alcohol
  • North Carolina
  1. Historic Latta Plantation Summer Camp (2017)
  2. Jason Betensky (27) at unnamed camp (2011)
  3. Tristan Russell at Providence Day School Summer Camp (2011)
  • North Dakota
  1. Sean Kovalevicnh (28) at unnamed summer church camp in Belcourt, North Dakota (2014)
  • Ohio
  1. Christopher Faulhaver (19) at Skyview Ranch in Millersburg (2017)
  • Oklahoma
  1. Benjamin Lawrence Petty (36) at Falls Creek Church Camp in Davis, Oklahoma in 2018;-blindness-cited-as-factor/3012641/
  • Oregon
  1. Rohan Cordy (28) at YMCA Camp at Silver Falls (2016)
  • Pennsylvania
  1. Chisdai Ben-Porath (20) at Camp Dora Golding (2007) Camp Owner covered up the abuse!
  2. Zachary M. Lee (24) at Hazleton Enlarged Ministry United Methodist Church Camp (2016)  and
  3. Joshua Farell (20) at CampMen-o-Lan in Quakertown, PA (2009)
  4. Unnamed 13 year old was caught sexually abusing a 5 year old (2015); caught again sexually abusing a special needs camper at YMCA’s Camp Spirit of York and York County (2016)
  • Rhode Island
  1. Richard Lee (28) at MacColl Field YMCA (2011)
  2. Dana Waters described as a serial child molester and
  • South Carolina
  1. Louis Neal “Skip” Reville (pled guilty in 2012 but molested boys for years) originally molested boys at The Citadel and then continuing at numerous other schools and churches.  The Citadel covered up his sex abuse allowing him to potentially molest hundreds of boys   and and
  2. Kevin DeRossett (26) at Alive Wesleyan Church Vacation Bible School Camp in Central, South Carolina (2012)
  • South Dakota
  1. Isaac ilkei B. Swan (29) at Thunderhead Church Camp (2004)
  • Tennessee
  1. Zachary Schott Anderle (21) at Woodlands Christian Camp and Retreat Center (2013)
  • Texas
  1. Matthew Bovee (20) at Camp la Junta (2009)
  2. Scott A. Zirus at Camp Stewart (2009)
  • Utah
  1. Keldon Severn Cook at Especially for Youth LDS Camp in Davis County, Utah (2015)
  2. Samuel Olsen (18) and Jordan Corliss (18) at Camp Tuttle while working as counselors for the Foundation for Children and Youth with Diabetes in Big Cottownwood Canyon, Utah  (2011)
  • Vermont
  1. The Aloha Foundation summer camps for boys and girls on Lake Morey (1983, 1987, looking for more victims – article written in 2017)
  • Virginia
  1. Michael Snaders-Price Jr.(26) at Camp Moss Hollow (2016) and
  2. Tarelle Robinson at Camp Jacob (2011)
  3. 3 teenage counselors( names not released due to age) at 4-H camp near Smith Mountain Lake (2003)
  • Washington
  1. Adair Krack at First Baptist Church Bible Camp in Hoquiam (2016)
  2. 14 year old counselor in training molested a 9 year old attending a summer day camp (2013)
  • West Virginia
  1. Maqsood Harrington (28) at J.B. Chambers YMCA inElm Grove, West Virginia (2015)
  • Wisconsin
  1. Eric Toth at Camp Nebagamon on 10 Most Wanted List (2012)
  • Wyoming
  1. William ”Bill” Bricker (93) arrested after decades of working at a summer camp in Jackson , Wyoming (2012)

Famous Child Molestation Victims

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown molested at summer camp by summer camp counselor

Sugar Ray Leonard molested by Olympic boxing coach.

Michael Reagan at after-school day camp.

Articles of Interest:

Flaws in backgrounds check system allowed a pedophile to work at a prestigious camp in Main because counselors that are teenagers and/or foreign citizen’s criminal records aren’t part of an FBI federal database of criminal information.  Has this changed??

Summer camps and pedophiles

Camp does not notify parents of son’s camp counselor being accused of a sex offense – should a new law include the state notifying and updating camp families of sex abuse at their camp??

Camp counselors appear to be the least regulated and least studied of all the J-1 subcategories.

Child sexual abuse is a greater risk to kids than cancer or car accidents

If your camp is not accredited by the American Camp Association than you do not know if the camp is doing background checks on counselors

Pedophiles chat online about taking jobs as camp counselors

Posted by Rania Mankarious, on 15 Feb 2018

About the author

Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston