Lawsuit: Priest at Long Lake Scout Camp Had Boys Wrestle in Speedos

By Jamie Munks
The Post-Star
October 17, 2011

Sexual abuse is the accusation in a lawsuit against a former director of Sabattis Adventure Camp in Long Lake, operated by Boy Scouts of America.

The lawsuit alleges that John Capparelli, a Roman Catholic priest, would have campers and camp staffers wrestle one another while wearing Speedo bathing suits.

He would photograph the wrestling matches and sometimes take part in the wrestling, and touched the chests, genitals and buttocks of plaintiff Andrew Dundorf and other minor boys, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint also alleges that Capparelli invited Dundorf to sleep with him in his living quarters. Dundorf, now 48, worked at the camp with Capparelli, who served as camp director from approximately 1983 to 1986.

The alleged sexual abuse began in New Jersey when Dundorf was 13, before he worked at the camp with Capparelli.

The lawsuit was filed in Newark, NJ., where Capparelli is a high school math teacher and a vice president of the Newark Teachers Union.

After claims of misconduct and a stay in a treatment center, Capparelli was suspended by the ministry by the Archdiocese of Newark in 1992. But he was not formally expelled from the priesthood, according to a story by The Star-Ledger of Newark, NJ.

Safety is of "paramount importance" to Boy Scouts of America, and anyone who is even suspected of abuse is banned from the organization, said Deron Smith, the organization's public relations director, in an email Monday.

"At the time of his hiring, there was no information or evidence that would suggest that the individual in question was anything other than a respected priest in good standing in the community," Smith wrote.

While Capparelli served as camp director at the Scout reservation, he "primarily hired physically fit, good-looking young men, many of whom were unqualified for their positions," according to the lawsuit.

A Scout leader who was disturbed by Capparelli's behavior discussed it with a staff member at the local Boy Scout council in New Jersey. The Scout leader wasn't sure if the organization acted on it, but Capparelli didn't return to the camp the following summer, according to The Star-Ledger.

The camp is still operating in the Adirondack Park. Boy Scouts of America and the Archdiocese of Newark are also listed as defendants in the lawsuit.



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