Four men have accused a former Mount Kisco camp coordinator and Horace Greeley High School employee of sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation when they were minors in the 1980s and ‘90s.
The plaintiffs, Gregory Ardanowski and Scott Roth and two victims identified in the litigation only as John Doe One and John Doe Two, made the explosive allegations in lurid detail against James Collins in a civil suit filed last Thursday in Westchester County Court under the auspices of the state’s Child Victims Act.
The alleged incidents, which occurred from 1980 to 1993, took place at Camp Iroquois at Leonard Park in Mount Kisco, where Collins was a camp coordinator, at the Leonard Park Pool, the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisco, where Collins operated and organized various sports leagues, and at Horace Greeley High School where the Chappaqua School District had hired him to work in various capacities including as a monitor and aide.
The boys’ ages ranged from 10 years old through their teen years at the time of the incidents, the lawsuit stated.
Collins, according to the lawsuit, has continued to maintain access to children through his jobs as a janitor and bus driver at Cedar Knolls School in Hawthorne. In addition to Collins, the Village/Town of Mount Kisco, the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester, Horace Greeley High School and the Chappaqua Central School District were also named as defendants.
According to the suit, Collins targeted boys who were vulnerable and susceptible from broken homes or single-parent households “by giving them special attention, preferential treatment, taking them to sporting events, buying them treats, candy, and/or plying them with alcohol.”
Collins’ behavior was known to other employees at the camp, Boys & Girls Club and at the school, the suit alleges.
“These warning signs, grooming behaviors, inappropriate time spent alone with Plaintiffs and not respecting boundaries with children were ignored by Entity Defendants, thus, creating the opportunity for abuse, resulting in failures to enforce proper boundaries and, instead, allowing Collins access to abuse children, including Plaintiffs,” the lawsuit detailed.
There are also believed to be other victims who may step forward, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyers from the Manhattan law firms of Manly, Stewart & Finaldi and Krantz & Berman.
Ardanowski, currently 50 years old, was 10 when he first encountered Collins, who coached his Little League team. A couple of years later, Ardanowski began attending the Boys & Girls Club and participating in activities. Collins would buy Ardanowski and other boys alcohol to get them drunk and engage in “masturbation sessions.”
On other occasions, Collins would molest multiple boys at the same time, according to the litigation.
In June 2019, Ardanowski confronted Collins about his actions, the lawsuit stated, and “Collins acknowledged that what he was done was wrong. Collins admitted that he continued abusing minor boys until at least 1994, although abuse may have proceeded for many years thereafter.” It did not specify how Ardanowski contacted Collins.
Roth, now 45, detailed a similar pattern of abuse. He became a youth counselor at Camp Iroquois at 14 years old in 1989. In his capacity as camp coordinator, Collins groomed, sexually harassed and molested various boys, including Roth.
Ardanowski and Roth now both live out of state.
The lawsuit stated that John Doe One entered Horace Greeley High School in the fall of 1983 and Collins would often sit near the then-14-year-old boy in the cafeteria at lunch. During some of those lunches, Collins allegedly began sexually harassing the boy, giving him hugs in full view of other school employees and would ask him increasingly personal questions.
By 1986 or 1987, Collins convinced John Doe One to start attending the Boys & Girls Club. The suit stated that on one occasion Collins took the boy into the club’s game room to show him pornographic videos and pulled down his pants and encouraged the boy to do the same.
John Doe Two was about eight years old when he first met Collins in 1977 as part of a bowling league. Collins began running the league within a year. Two years later, the boy was recruited by Collins to become the Little League team’s official scorer.
In the years that followed, Collins continued to mingle with John Doe Two, and forced five or six boys to undress in the Boys & Girls Club pool and sauna area and masturbate in front of him.
Chappaqua Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Ackerman e-mailed a statement to the community last Thursday stating that the district would fully cooperate with authorities in this matter.
“This morning, the District learned that, pursuant to the Child Victims Act, the Chappaqua Central School District has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit alleging that, approximately 30 years ago, a former cafeteria monitor/teacher aide engaged in sexual misconduct with minors,” Ackerman wrote. “This former employee resigned from the District in 1994.
“The safety and well-being of our children is our highest priority. As such, the accusations in the complaint are deeply disturbing, regardless of when they are alleged to have occurred.”
The suit, which seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against each defendant, states that the four plaintiffs have suffered and have not been able to lead normal functioning lives in the years since the abuse. They have also incurred expenses for medical and psychological treatment, therapy and counseling.
“As a result of the above-described conduct, Plaintiffs have suffered, and will continue to suffer great pain of mind and body, shock, emotional distress, discomfort, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation and loss of enjoyment of life,” the lawsuit mentioned.