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Bedford Man Arrested on Federal Charges for Sexual Exploitation

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The Bedford man being sued under the state’s Child Victims Act for alleged decades-old sexual abuse locally was charged last week by federal authorities and accused of convincing an Illinois teenager to engage in sexually-explicit activity.

James Collins, 67, was arrested Jan. 24 in Bedford Hills and charged with one count of attempting to entice a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Maximum prison sentences are life and 30 years in prison, respectively, on the two charges if there is a conviction.

Collins appeared in federal court in White Plains later that same day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy. He was detained without bail.

Authorities said that from on or about Sept. 16, 2023, until about Nov. 7, Collins used a Snapchat account to persuade a 17-year-old minor in Illinois to engage in sexually-explicit activity and send Collins the videos and photos of that activity.

“This case underlines the urgent need for law enforcement to continue its efforts to protect children from those who prey on them,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a prepared statement. “As today’s arrest shows, we will use every tool available to law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those alleged to have sexually exploited children.”

Enticement and exploitation are federal charges, and use of the internet in that activity gives federal authorities jurisdiction over the matters, said a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Collins was also arrested on Nov. 7 by New Castle police and charged with one count of third-degree criminal sex act, a Class E felony. He is accused of having engaged with an underage teenage boy.

Collins has been out on $7,500 bail since shortly after that arrest. He was scheduled to appear in New Castle Justice Court last Thursday evening, but that appearance was rescheduled for Feb. 22.

Meanwhile, the civil suit under the Child Victims Act has continued to progress. There were 16 plaintiffs who signed on to that litigation against Collins, the Village of Mount Kisco, the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester and the Chappaqua School District, where Collins had been employed in various capacities from the late 1970s through the 1980s.

Saul Wolf, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the civil litigation, said that one of his clients has settled their case but the other 15 are awaiting the case to be assigned to another Westchester County Court judge, who will then set a trial date.

He said that his clients are “definitely hopeful” there will be a conviction and that with the two arrests in November and last week feel a sense of vindication.

However, that does not change the circumstances that inaction by people connected with the Village of Mount Kisco and the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester more than 40 years ago needlessly put more victims in jeopardy decades later, Wolf said.

“It’s a hard, harsh lesson and an unfortunate tragedy for these recent victims of Collins that this could have been stopped a long time ago,” Wolf said.

One of the 16 plaintiffs also weighed in on Collins’ latest arrest Wednesday afternoon.

“I am pleased that the United States Department of Justice is putting the full weight of the federal government behind the effort to stop Jimmy Collins’ sexual predation of children,” Gregory Ardanowski, an alleged sexual abuse victim of Collins, said in a statement. “His horrific abuse has now spanned over six decades. If the Village of Mount Kisco and Boys & Girls Club of Mount Kisco had acted sooner, his abuse of children would have ended years ago.”



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