QUEENSBURY — The former camp counselor who was accused of sexually abusing 10 boys at the Warren County camp where he worked pleaded guilty to two felonies Monday as jury selection was to begin in his case.
Dylan T. Stolz, 51, agreed to serve 4 1/2 years in state prison and 10 years on parole for his abuse of two boys at exclusive Brant Lake Camp in Horicon.
Stolz, though, pleaded guilty with the understanding he not admit the underlying allegations, a disposition known as an “Alford Plea.” In court, he told acting Warren County Judge Kelly McKeighan that he was not admitting guilt, but was pleading guilty to avoid the possibility of a longer sentence and because he feared there was sufficient evidence to convict him.
As he left court, he told Post-Star newspartner NewsChannel 13 that he was “innocent.” But he would not discuss the case further, and his lawyer, James Knox, also had no comment.
Stolz, a Little Neck, Long Island resident, is free on bail pending sentencing June 21.
The plea wraps up nearly 11 months of litigation that began when a camper came forward last June alleging that Stolz fondled his genitalia and buttocks during the first days of camp last June.
In the weeks that followed, 10 boys ages 7 to 10 came forward to State Police with allegations that Stolz fondled them in his bunkroom, their bunkrooms or the boys’ shower at the camp, dating back to 2015.
He was later indicted on 29 charges, and stood trial in February before a mistrial was declared because one of the boys partially recanted his accusations.
Knox has said that the defense believed that the allegations were the result of campers, many of whom know each other from New York City outside of camp, fabricating claims when they learned of the first boy’s allegations. As the Warren County District Attorney’s Office prepared for re-trial, it dropped 12 charges, so Stolz faced eight felonies and seven misdemeanors as of Monday.
Stolz had turned down a plea deal offer earlier this year that included a prison sentence of between 7 and 12 years. But discussions of a resolution to the charge picked up late last week, and continued through the weekend.
The mother of one of the boys, who spoke on condition her name not be published, said “justice was served” with the convictions and sentence.
“We are glad that the boys can put this behind them,” she said.
She thanked the Warren County District Attorney’s office and State Police Investigator Justin Mootz for their efforts with the case.
Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone said the deal was reached to spare the victims from the trauma of having to testify in open court and endure cross examination by Stolz’s lawyers.
“This gives a known, guaranteed outcome for the families and kids so they can move on with their lives,” he said.
Carusone seemed taken aback when hearing that Stolz maintained his innocence after pleading guilty.
“He had every opportunity to go forward with a trial in this case,” he said. “We were ready for trial and never had any doubt about our proof.”
Carusone praised assistant district attorneys Matthew Burin and Ben Smith, crime victims specialist Manon Affinito and the State Police for their work on the case.
Stolz could have faced up to 7 years in state prison for each felony, to a maximum of 20 years. He will have to register as a sex offender, and orders of protection will be issued for each accuser and their families.
Stolz waived his right to appeal as part of the deal as well.
Stolz had been a counselor at the camp for 33 years, working as an elementary school teacher on Long Island during the school year. He was fired from the camp and placed on leave from the teaching job after his arrest, and will lose his teaching license because of the convictions.
A man who answered the phone at Brant Lake Camp on Monday afternoon said the management had no comment on the case.
Jurors were waiting in adjacent courtroom when Stolz took his plea, as lawyers were preparing to argue motions that centered on Knox subpoenaing the child who recanted during the first trial, as well as a request from the defense for a “material witness order” from McKeighan to force a camp employee to testify when he made it clear he would not travel from Florida for the re-trial.
The issues became moot with the guilty pleas, however.