An ex-counselor at a residential boys camp in New Hampshire was sentenced Friday to up to five years in prison for sexually abusing an underage camper two decades ago in a case that brought attention to the camp’s culture during that era.
The victim, Will Addis, of Camden, Maine, accused leaders at Camp Tecumseh in Moultonborough, N.H., of failing to act in 2003 on reports that the 19-year-old counselor was sharing a bed with him when he was 12 years old.
The counselor, Matthew J. Scavitto, now 39, also kissed him in front of others and held his hand while they walked on camp property, Addis said.
“Not a day has gone by that some aspect of Matt Scavitto’s horrific sexual, physical, and emotionally abusive behavior doesn’t haunt me,” Addis wrote in a victim impact statement, which he shared with the Globe. The sexual abuse, Addis wrote, nearly drove him to kill himself.
Scavitto’s defense lawyer said his client was impacted by the camp’s culture at that time, which “normalized behaviors that would be considered criminal today.”
Scavitto, of West Chester, Pa., pleaded guilty Friday in Carroll County Superior Court to two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and was sentenced to 2½ to five years in state prison in New Hampshire, the prosecutor said.
He is already registered as a sex offender in Pennsylvania, where he pleaded guilty in 2015 to charges of institutional sexual assault and corruption of minors and was sentenced to prison time, records show.
In a statement issued Saturday, Camp Tecumseh said it was gratified that Scavitto had accepted responsibility and that his punishment “will bring some measure of accountability.”
The camp said it has cooperated with the police investigation into Scavitto since 2015 and expressed appreciation for Addis. Camp Tecumseh has and will continue to “respond to any historical allegations of abuse with the same commitment to truth, care, accountability, and candor,” said the statement, signed by Cornelius Merlini, leader of the board of trustees.
“Will’s experience reflects the depth of the harms caused by grooming — that abuse can occur over a period of time without those around being aware of the true nature of the actions — and the Camp’s lens was not as finely calibrated in the past as it is now,” the statement said.
The camp said it is now more vigilant about the “insidious ways that perpetrators can infiltrate” institutions.
Camp Tecumseh’s website includes information about Scavitto’s case and instructions for reporting concerns about camper safety to the director, lawyers who have investigated reports of child sex abuse on the camp’s behalf, Moultonborough police, and child welfare officials in New Hampshire.
While the statement issued Saturday didn’t address Addis’s claim that camp leaders failed to act on a report about Scavitto sharing a bed with him in 2003, Camp Tecumseh has previously said that an internal investigation found the information shared then was a “concern about boundaries, rather than about abuse.”
The camp covers 350 acres near Lake Winnipesaukee and has historically drawn many campers from the Philadelphia area.
Addis, 33, sued Camp Tecumseh in 2020 over the sex abuse and reached a settlement out of court. In June 2021, Addis described the abuse for a Globe story that also detailed what he termed to be demeaning and embarrassing practices at Camp Tecumseh.
One example he cited was a bathroom known as “The Widdow,” which Addis said lacked privacy doors during the early 2000s. Camp Tecumseh has said a dividing wall was constructed in the bathroom in the early 2000s and renovations in 2021 enclosed all toilets.
In November 2021, a New Hampshire grand jury indicted Scavitto, who remained free on personal recognizance while the case was pending.
Carroll County Attorney Keith Blair said his office recommended Scavitto be sentenced to fiveto 10 years in prison.
“Obviously the state had requested more time based on the conduct that had occurred,” Blair said Friday in a phone interview. “At the same time we are pleased to aid Will in his pursuit of justice for those crimes.”
Scavitto will become eligible to seek parole after he serves 2½ years, Blair said. Upon his release from prison, he must register in New Hampshire as a sex offender, Blair said.
In Pennsylvania, Scavitto was prosecuted after two students at The Phelps School, in suburban Philadelphia, accused him of sexually abusing them while he worked there as a teacher, coach, and dorm supervisor, police said.
One of the Phelps students also attended Camp Tecumseh and told investigators that Scavitto sexually abused him at the camp in 2013, a police report said.
Addis said if Camp Tecumseh had acted on information it received about him in 2003, Scavitto could have been prosecuted earlier and he could have been stopped from abusing others.
Scavitto was a camper and later a counselor from 1994 to 2014, according to Camp Tecumseh, which cut ties with him after his Pennsylvania arrest in June 2015.
Jesse Friedman, Scavitto’s defense attorney in New Hampshire, said in an email Friday that the camp’s culture impacted his client and other campers.
“Irrespective, Matt takes full responsibility for his actions and can only begin to understand the effect that his actions had upon the victim in this case,” Friedman said. “There are no winners today.”
Eric MacLeish, Addis’s lawyer, said he represents two other former campers who allege they were sexually abused by a different counselor, who worked at Camp Tecumseh before Addis enrolled.
In a statement, MacLeish said it’s rare for people to go to prison for sexually abusing children.
“Because of antiquated laws and inadequate resources for law enforcement and prosecutors in this state, very few of these monsters are held accountable,” he said.
Addis said childhood sexual abuse causes “lasting, lifelong damage.”
“It is one of the most urgent issues of our time, and must be taken more seriously — especially within the criminal justice system,” he said.