A former Phillips Exeter Academy math teacher allegedly “groomed” a shy 14-year-old freshman girl into years of sexual abuse and manipulated her parents into believing he was a trusted family friend, according to court records and a prosecutor.
Szczesny Jerzy Kaminski pleaded not guilty Tuesday to multiple counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault charges stemming from his alleged repeated sexual assault of the girl between 2014 and 2016 at the private boarding school in Exeter, N.H., where Kaminski was a math instructor and the girl an out-of-state student.
Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway said in court that the 59-year-old Kaminski targeted the shy teenager “who felt almost alone” when she arrived on campus in 2014. The girl soon found herself in a classroom, being kissed repeatedly by Kaminski, Conway said during Kaminski’s arraignment in the 10th Circuit Court, District Division, in Brentwood, N.H.
Over succeeding weeks, months, and years, Kaminski allegedly intensified his control over the girl through in-person contact, e-mails, and text messages to the point where she was visiting his on-campus home multiple times a week. He also insinuated himself into her family so thoroughly that he traveled abroad with them, helped the girl fend off a plagiarism allegation at the school, and, at the parents’ request, drove the victim to Boston for music lessons.
“Not only did she trust him, but her parents trusted him,” Conway said. “The long and short of this story is that her parents trusted this man.”
In 2016, school staffers raised concerns about what they saw as an inappropriate level of contact between Kaminski and the girl, ultimately leading the administration to alert Exeter police about their concerns. Police met with the child’s parents and, describing how sexual predators groom their victims, told them Kaminski might be victimizing their daughter, according to court records and Conway.
“They stated that they were surprised to hear that people thought it might be suspicious activity,” police wrote in a 2016 report. “The parents in the case do not want the concerns investigated and are comfortable with Kaminski’s relationship with their daughter.”
The same year, the alleged victim also told authorities nothing inappropriate was happening. But this year, the former student, now a woman in her early 20s, described what happened to her with law enforcement and provided e-mails and text messages in support of her allegations.
“He sexually assaulted the child not once, but over and over and over and over again. For years,” Conway said, asking that Kaminski be held under New Hampshire’s dangerousness law without bail. “This was clearly calculated. He didn’t stop even after twice being warned by the administration.”
Kaminski’s defense attorney, Amy Spencer, said he has no criminal history and lives with his wife of 29 years, who was ready to post $10,000 cash bail if that was the amount set by the court. She said he lives in Massachusetts and that the couple are looking to sell the condo where they currently live and move to a cohousing development in Northampton.
“His roots are firmly with his wife in Massachusetts,” she said.
She also said that Kaminski’s age would put him at risk of exposure to COVID-19 if he were jailed, citing what she said was a confirmed outbreak of the illness in the county jail.
Spencer said Kaminski denies the allegations, but did not provide a detailed response to Conway’s allegations in court.
Judge Polly L. Hall set bail at $50,000 cash, ordered Kaminski to agree to return to New Hampshire for future court appearances without any litigation, and not to have any contact with the alleged victim, according to court records.
Court records show Kaminski was evicted from his on-campus housing and issued a trespassing order this spring when law enforcement launched its renewed investigation.
Phillips Exeter Academy did not respond to a request for comment.