A Pennsylvania sleep-away camp is being sued by the family of a camper based on accusations that a counselor molested the boy and a fellow camper last summer. The suit contends that the camp owner tried to cover up the abuse and gave the counselor a bus ticket back home to Canada.
According to the suit, the 12-year-old boy from Monsey, Pa. took video of the counselor sexually assaulting the other boy. It accuses Camp Dora Golding and Alexander Gold, its owner, of having knowledge that the counselor was attracted to younger boys prior to the incident.
The camp serves Orthodox Jewish children, many of whom come from Rockland and Orange counties in New York. The 20-page complaint also claims Camp Dora Golding has covered up sexual abuses in the past.
The father of the boy said that Gold called his wife and told her that an incident had occurred and that her son was okay, but did not go into any specific details. The couple immediately traveled to the camp and their son explained to them what had occurred.
The boy’s father said he felt that his family’s life had been “violated by Gold and the camp” and that he would be more “paranoid” with the rest of his four kids.
Matthew Flanagan, Gold’s lawyer, denied the claims. He said that the family will come to see that nothing was covered up, and that the camp acted appropriately both before and after the events to protect their child and all other campers.
The accused counselor, 20-year-old Chisdai Ben-Porath, named in the lawsuit, pleaded guilty in February to the molestation charges. He was given a 5 to 23 month sentence in a Monroe County, Penn. jail.
The boy’s father claims that Gold refused to let the child call his parents and first lied to parents about what had happened to the campers.
In the video, which is about 2 minutes long, Ben-Porath is allegedly shown picking up one of the campers and grinding his torso on the child shortly after midnight on July 11, 2013. The counselor then went to the other boy’s bunk bed and began to massage him on the buttock while the boy pretended to be asleep, hoping the counselor would then stop. He then jumped up from his bed, noticed that Ben-Porath looked to be aroused sexually, and climbed under his bunk, telling the counselor that he was looking for a computer game.
The family of the other camper declined to press criminal charges and did not join the civil lawsuit.
Ben-Porath’s lawyer, Kenneth Gribetz, acknowledged the content of the video, and said that his client had no prior criminal history and that he acknowledged his wrongdoing. He is now undergoing therapy and was not deemed a sexually violent predator after being evaluated by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offender Assessment Board.
Gribetz also said that he expected his client would be released after his parole hearing in July and then be deported to Canada.
The boy’s father expressed anger at the state’s prosecution of the case, saying that he thought Ben-Porath would have been on a bus back to Canada if he had not pushed for the arrest. He agreed to downgrade the charges because he did not want his son to have to testify or be identified publicly.
Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of our firm’s “The Federal Docket” and a contributor to Mercer Law Review’s Annual Survey in the areas of federal law. Tom was named a “Top 40 Under 40” lawyer by The National Trial Lawyers, and is a recognized expert in federal sentencing law. He graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom’s reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.