Cory Legnetti, a 21-year-old serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, claims to have been molested at summer camp.
A New Yorker serving in the U.S. Coast Guard filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming he was molested repeatedly by a counselor at a popular Catskills summer camp.
Now 21, Cory Legnetti said Peter Evans began preying on him in 1998 when he was 10 at Camp Chipinaw in Swan Lake, N.Y., according to a lawsuit filed in Manhattan.
“Cory was playing tennis one day and said he was thirsty and the guy said, ‘I have some soda in my bunk, come with me,'” Legnetti’s mother, Mary, told The Daily News. “That’s how it started. And it happened again the next two summers.”
Legnetti, who lives in Wantaugh and is stationed in San Diego, “is speaking out now because this guy still has access to kids and doesn’t want this to happen to another boy,” his mother said.
The lawsuit also alleges Evans has “sexually molested numerous children.”
Camp Chipinaw, which has been hosting campers ages 7 through 17 since 1926, is named in the lawsuit. So is the Connecticut-based Camp America, which allegedly recruited Evans to work at Camp Chipinaw.
“Each Defendant knew or should have known that Evans had sexually molested numerous children, and that Evans was a danger to children long before Evans molested plaintiff,” the suit states.
Legnetti claims in the suit that both camps “failed to conduct a proper background check on Evans.”
Evans, who is from Britain, is a middle school teacher at the Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton, Fla. He did not return a phone call or respond to an e-mail sent to his school address.
Evans is also believed to have worked at Camp Chinipaw as recently as last year, said Mary Legnetti, 48.
Calls to the camps were also not immediately returned.
Mary Legnetti said her son, who is patrolling the waters off Central America, is serene with his decision to go public with his tale of alleged abuse.
“He said, ‘I’m ready to help other boys. A big weight has been lifted off of me,'” the mom said. “He doesn’t want to kill himself any more. He’s on his way to healing.”
Mary Legnetti said her son struggled with “anger issues” all through high school and that she spent thousands of dollars on therapy. “He’d have girlfriends, but they didn’t last,” she said.
It wasn’t until after Legnetti turned 21 in October “that it all came out,” his mother said.
“He had been avoiding my calls for about a week,” she said. “When I finally reached him, he told me, ‘My past is coming back to haunt me. When I was at summer camp, I was molested by a guy there named Peter Evans.'”
“I had no inkling,” she added. “I said to myself, ‘Did I miss something?'”
Legnetti didn’t say anything “because his sister, all his friends, a huge chunk of kids we knew went to this camp,” his mother said.
“He didn’t want to lose that,” his mother said. “He told me he tried to stay away from Evans and if he saw him his skin began to crawl. And yet it still went on.”
BY CORKY SIEMASZKO DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
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