HORICON — The news that longtime Brant Lake camp counselor Dylan Stolz had been arrested on charges he sexually abused numerous boys at the camp was not a surprise to many of the families whose children have gone to the camp for years.
Word had long been out among boys who had gone to the camp for multiple summers to stay away from Stolz, who was known to invite boys by themselves back to his room to watch movies, play games or “cuddle,” according to a parent of one of the alleged victims.
At least one of Stolz’s fellow counselors had notified camp staff about concerns over Stolz’s interactions with children before the first child came forward, the parent said in a recent interview.
The parent, whose name is being withheld so as not to identify her son, came forward out of concern that the public was not getting the full picture about Stolz and concerns of the parents of boys who attended the exclusive sleepaway camp each summer.
The parent said their son was the first to disclose that he had been molested, writing a letter to his parents in June, days before he was scheduled to return to camp for the summer.
The family notified State Police, and an investigation ensued that led to Stolz being arrested about a week later and charged with fondling five boys.
A subsequent 27-count grand jury indictment resulted in charges that accuse Stolz of molesting at least 9 boys ages 9 to 11 while they were at the camp in recent summers, and authorities said the investigation is ongoing.
The parent said they learned after their child disclosed the abuse that many campers and parents had concerns about Stolz before the arrest, and that some parents claimed they had notified camp administration about those concerns. No other parents who were contacted were willing to discuss the issue with a reporter, though.
“How many times did they need a parent to say they didn’t want their kid in a room with Dylan?” the parent asked.
The camp changed its policies this summer so that counselors can no longer be alone with campers. A psychologist was also on hand for children at the camp this summer.
Stolz, 51, had worked at the camp for 33 years and was a senior counselor. He spent his summers there after working the rest of the year as an elementary school teacher in the Hewlett-Woodmere school district on Long Island. He has been placed on leave by the school district in light of the arrest.
Stolz was fired in late June, within minutes of camp administrators learning of sex abuse allegations from a parent whose child had come forward. The quick firing indicated to the parent who spoke with The Post-Star that camp administrators were aware of the suspicions about Stolz, because a longtime employee would not have been fired so quickly otherwise.
He was fired before State Police were contacted, and when investigators reached out to Stolz to question him, he asked for a lawyer.
The parent said their son has been undergoing counseling, and the family is bracing for a trial in the sexual abuse case that is scheduled to start Feb. 4 in Warren County Court.
“He took something from my child that he can never get back,” the parent said of Stolz. “I want him to go to jail for as long as possible.”
Camp owners and administration have refused for months to discuss the matter.
A man who answered the phone at the camp on Thursday said the camp had no comment on the situation, even when told of allegations that parents had expressed concerns about Stolz before his arrest.
Stolz is free on bail, pending a pretrial hearing in his case on Jan. 25. He rejected a plea deal last month that would have netted him a state prison sentence of between 7 and 12 years.