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LAKELAND - Police said a youth minister was arrested for allegedly having sex with more than one child. According to police, Marshal Seymour turned himself in Friday night after a warrant was issued for his arrest, WESH 2 News reported.
The Lakeland Police Department said the warrant came after an investigation that Seymour committed numerous sexual offenses while he was a volunteer youth minister at the First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland.
Police said Seymour allegedly engaged in sexual activity with more than one minor and often paid the victims money for the sexual conduct or to keep quiet about the encounters that had occurred.
Seymour was charged with unlawful sexual activity, using a child in sexual performance, and tampering with evidence.
Police said they are still investigating the allegations.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
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MOKENA -- The wheels on Mokena's buses go round and round, all through the town.
But they only stop at corners.
Mokena School District officials are at the end of a three-year process to move nearly all bus stops to street corners, Superintendent Gary Bradbury said. District officials want a corner-only policy for bus stops as a way of maintaining efficiency and fairness. It is unclear how many stops were eliminated during the process.
The stop at 19616 116th Ave. was among the last to be phased into the corner-only plan. But moving the bus stop doesn't sit well with folks at The Learning Tree, a day care center near the stop where four Mokena Elementary School students go before and after school.
Dottie Campo, who sends her 6-year-old twin boys to the day care, was shocked to learn the bus stop that has been in front of the center for years no longer is available.
"There are eight children at the stop," Campo said. "It's not like they're servicing one student."
But precedent is precedent, Bradbury said, and if the district makes an exception for one stop, more could follow.
"Once we say yes to one household, how do we say no to other households?" Bradbury said.
District policy outlines three exceptions to the unwritten rule Bradbury suspects has been used for more than 30 years: If there are no sidewalks and students are forced to walk on the road, if a student has a physical handicap or if a corner stop requires a student to walk by the home of a registered sex offender, mid-block stops are permissible. The board voted to uphold the administration's decision at the corner of 116th Avenue and 197th Street.
The reason the district initially deviated from the rule is rooted in Mokena's fast-paced growth, Bradbury said.
"Sometimes, the developers were not as prompt in putting in sidewalks," he said. "Mokena has become pretty well built-out."
Those exceptions are fine with Campo, but she said an in-home day care, of which there are very few in town, deserves to be one of the exceptions.
"The bus drives by the house to get to the corner," she said. "Now they have 20 students at one corner. That's one-third of the bus."
When Bradbury visited the bus stop, he said it was appropriate.
"I found it to be orderly and well-supervised."
Tim Imler, a division administrator for funding and disbursement services with the Illinois State Board of Education, said bus stops and bus routing are entirely local decisions.
"I think if the state got into that kind of micromanaging, you'd start losing local control," he said.
Parent Jackie Bueschel also takes issue with removing the stop where her 5-year-old waits. As a supporter of the district, Bueschel saw the decision as out of sync with the other initiatives the district affords students.
"My main concern is the safety of the children, especially at the very young ages, on this very long block," Bueschel said.
In a letter to the administration, she wrote, "We are just asking for the bus to continue to stop at The Learning Tree, as it has for 20 years. We are not asking for a private limo driver."
In the end, Bradbury said, the responsibility to get the children to their designated stop falls on the day care provider, even if that means hiring someone to escort the students to the stop.
Campo said she will continue to petition the district for the mid-block stop.
"It's not rocket science. I just want them to utilize some common sense."
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11/03/2007 OLYMPIA — Nora Cutshaw, a state worker responsible for escorting civilly committed sex offenders on approved trips, resigned on Oct. 22 in the wake of an allegation that she had an inappropriate relationship with one of them.
“We took the allegations very, very seriously and moved very quickly to ensure it wouldn’t happen again,” said Steve Williams, spokesman for the state Department of Social & Health Services. “We immediately began disciplinary action under state regulations. … It was pretty obvious we were going to give her a letter terminating her, but she got her letter of resignation in first.”
Cutshaw’s attorney, Bruce Finlay of Shelton, said his client is being “railroaded” and denied any wrongdoing. He called the allegation “mistaken innuendo,” and said they plan to sue the state.
“What they’re doing to this woman is shameful,” he said.
Cutshaw had been on administrative leave since the alleged incident, which occurred on April 1, when she escorted a man named Casper Ross from the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island to a relative’s home in Lakewood.
People in the Special Commitment Center have served their prison sentences for sexual crimes but are held indefinitely though a civil process because they are considered to be dangerous.
Ross, 44, is a Level 3 sex offender who was classified as a violent predator. He was convicted of first-degree rape in 1987 for using a knife to kidnap a 12-year-old girl, taking her to a secluded location and raping her. He also has a sexual abuse conviction from 1980 in Oregon that involved a 15-year-old girl he met at a video arcade. In 1999, he was civilly committed to the Special Commitment Center, which houses 265 sexually violent predators.
Ross had completed six levels of treatments and was released to the “less restrictive alternative” area at the commitment center, Williams said. He was allowed to have pre-approved, escorted trips off the island as part of his treatment program to transition back into society, the DSHS spokesman said.
After the alleged improper contact with Cutshaw, Ross was moved back to the Special Commitment Center. A hearing is set for Nov. 16 to determine whether he’ll permanently lose his “less restrictive alternative” privileges.
Cutshaw’s husband, Scott, is a former State Patrol trooper who worked in Grays Harbor County. In 1992, he was charged with bribery after allegedly conspiring with a McCleary Police officer to fix a drunken driving ticket.
Cutshaw maintained his innocence and said he thought it was a joke when the officer talked about fixing a ticket for his cousin. Cutshaw ended up pleading guilty to official misconduct, admitting only that he failed to report a ticket-fixing scheme. He was sentenced to five months in jail, and had his conviction vacated in 2006, according to Grays Harbor Superior Court records. Cutshaw now works as a fraud investigator for the state Department of Labor & Industries.
The Cutshaws currently live in Shelton.
On April 1, Nora Cutshaw escorted Ross to his relative’s home in Lakewood. The visit was scheduled from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. At about 3:30, a local police officer conducted a routine check to make sure the pre-arranged trip was going as scheduled, according to Lakewood Police.
He said he found a state van parked in back of the house, knocked on the back door, the small window next to the door and the kitchen window before Cutshaw opened the back door. He said she looked “disheveled … and she was fixing her shirt.”
The officer said he checked her portfolio, the trip route plan, radio and cell phone, which took about a minute, then saw Ross walking out of a bedroom into the living room. Ross also looked “disheveled and was adjusting the belt around his waist,” the report said.
The officer said the house seemed “really quiet” and asked if anyone else was home. Ross said it was his cousin’s house, but “they were not around right now,” the report said.
The following day, Lakewood Police Chief Larry Saunders sent a letter to the Special Commitment Center’s superintendent, Henry Richards, requesting a full investigation, highlighting Ross’ criminal history and expressing concerns about the safety of the Lakewood community.
“(Ross) was civilly committed upon release from prison due to continuing tendencies for sexual predation that render him a grave danger to our communities,” Saunders wrote. “His actions in this incident appear to reaffirm those dangerous tendencies. …
“Moreover, given these potentially compromising circumstances, we are neither confident of Ms. Cutshaw’s commitment to the protocols nor her capacity to enforce them.”
Cutshaw’s attorney said she “never had any inappropriate contact” with Ross at all.
“All of this has been arrived at through mistaken innuendo — a mistaken and completely incorrect view of what was seen,” Finlay said. “She’s being steamrolled and railroaded, and she’s not going to stand for it.”
The attorney said the bedroom can’t be seen from where the officer was and that Ross wasn’t even wearing a belt that day.
Finlay said his client plans to take legal action against everyone involved — DSHS, the Lakewood Police, even the news organizations that briefly reported on the incident in April.
“The whole thing was unbelievable, quite frankly,” he said. “You can imagine the situation Nora’s in. She’s horrified. Her employers aren’t supporting her and they’re using her as a scapegoat.”
Williams, the Department of Social & Health Services spokesman, said an internal investigation was completed and the “facts still stand.”
Details of the investigation, including how often Cutshaw had escorted Ross off the island, have not been released. The Daily World has submitted a public records request for the report.
Cutshaw was hired as a residential rehabilitation counselor in 2004. They’re not therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists or even corrections officers, but simply staffers specially trained to watch and escort the sex offenders, Williams said.
The counselors do the driving and are required to stay in close proximity to the sex offender at all times. They are not armed, by law, but they do have radios and cell phones in order to contact law enforcement officers. Trip plans are filed with the relevant police agency ahead of time, Williams said.
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More than a year after several North Texas cities began restricting where sex offenders can live, the laws appear to have had little effect – either in reducing the number of offenders living in these cities or driving them underground, as some officials feared.
But as more cities continue to officially yank the welcome mat for sex offenders – Little Elm and Mansfield are the latest to consider such ordinances – experts warn that these restrictions do little to protect children, the primary reason most enact the measures.
"You aren't going to stop sexual assaults by putting in an ordinance," said Allison Taylor, executive director of the Council on Sex Offender Treatment of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
She said one study of high-risk offenders found "no evidence that proximity to a park or a school contributed to any re-offense."
But that hasn't stopped nearly two dozen North Texas cities from passing laws prohibiting sex offenders from living within 1,000 or 2,000 feet of schools, day-care centers, parks and other places frequented by children.
The restrictions were aimed at reducing the number of sex offenders in those cities, but the numbers haven't changed much where the ordinances were passed.
Plano currently has 115 registered sex offenders – 15 more than in July 2006, when the city created 1,000-foot child safety zones , police Officer Rick McDonald said.
Rowlett had 25 to 30 sex offenders before its rule was enacted in June 2006, and the numbers haven't changed since.
"We don't have a great turnover," Detective Pam Mauri said. "There have been maybe four that have tried to move in and were not able to because of the ordinance."
Carrollton currently has 93 registered sex offenders listed on the Police Department's Web site. Investigator Todd Burnside, who oversees offender registration, said the numbers range from the high 80s to low 90s and haven't changed much since the city's ordinance passed in May 2006. Carrollton was the first city in the area to pass a more restrictive ordinance than the state law.
And the new restrictions don't appear to be driving sex offenders from one city to another in significant numbers.
Dallas has not passed a residency law, but officials haven't seen a flood of sex offenders moving in from Rowlett, Duncanville, Plano and other cities with the ordinances.
With about 3,475 registered sex offenders currently residing in Dallas – up from 3,426 a year ago – Sgt. I. Porter, who supervises the Police Department's sex offender compliance squad, said the numbers put Dallas "right on target of where we should be."
The numbers may be holding steady because residency ordinances generally don't require offenders to move if they were already living within the child safety zones. In addition, these zones generally don't cover entire cities.
In Plano, for example, child safety zones cover 59 percent of the city – which leaves offenders plenty of areas in which to reside without being pushed together in one area.
"Clustering was the big thing that came up a year ago," Officer McDonald said. "But there have really been only 15 people, so we're really not having any clustering."
The impact of local ordinances may be limited for other reasons.
In Arlington, the residency regulations apply to only habitual sex offenders, those with more than one conviction.
"That's a very small percentage of our sex offenders," Detective Bill Landolt said.
Since the child safety zones, which cover half the city, were put in place, only seven offenders have sought to move to Arlington. Two have been turned away.
"One man got out of prison after 15 years and wanted to live with his mother, who lives in a child safety zone," Detective Landolt said. "He moved to Fort Worth."
Another offender was found living with his family in a restricted area and was told to move within 14 days. "He didn't move fast enough and received a citation" before leaving, Detective Landolt said.
Richardson may provide a strong barometer on the laws.
The city – which currently lists 37 sex offenders, five fewer than when its ordinance was enacted a year ago – has one of the strictest sex offender residency laws in North Texas. The city's 2,000-foot child safety zone – double the size in most cities – makes 98 percent of Richardson off-limits to convicted child molesters.
Since the city's ordinance was passed in October 2006, sexual crimes against children have dropped only slightly – from 28 in the year prior to its passage to 26 over the past 12 months.
However, registered sex offenders may not have committed any of those crimes, Richardson police Capt. Bryan Sylvester said.
All of the cases except one involved family members, acquaintances or consensual sex between adolescents. The one unsolved case involved a man who stopped some girls walking along a street and groped them. Since the assailant was never identified, police don't know whether he was a registered sex offender.
Richardson's experience underscores the fact that few children are abused by strangers. Ms. Taylor said 90 percent of sexual assaults against children are committed by family members or someone close to the family. A residency ordinance "doesn't stop a sex offender from going home and molesting his own child," she said.
Only one Richardson sex offender disappeared after police determined that he had moved into a restricted area. Despite this case, the city's stringent residency rules don't seem to have driven offenders underground. The number of arrest warrants for sex offenders who have failed to register has declined significantly. Ten warrants were issued in the year prior to the ordinance. Only three have been issued since the residency rules have been on the books.
While residency rules may make residents feel safer, the feeling may be an illusion. A Dallas Morning News investigation last year found that about one in six offenders in North Texas doesn't live at his or her registered address.
In addition, Ms. Taylor said names that appear on police departments' sex offender registries represent only a small portion of people who commit sex crimes. She said only 12 percent of sex offenses are reported, and only 1 percent of those cases result in convictions.
"The majority [of sex offenders] will never be affected by these ordinances," she said.
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Video available at the site. You see, even Mark Lunsford says the laws are to "punish not one, but all sex offenders!" Therefore it's unconstitutional. Guess he doesn't really mean that, since his own son was charged with a sex crime (here), and he had child porn on his machine when Jessica went missing (here), and he was not charged with it. Why? This man (here), lost his daughter, had child porn, and he is in prison. He also says he raised all his kids! That is a lie, you were never there for your kids, until this all occurred (here).
It may seem like it used to be safe for your kids to play out in the neighborhood without worry, but not anymore. It now seems sex offenders are everywhere preying on the innocent, the young, but one Eastern Kentucky native is leading the way in the fight against sex offenders after one took his daughters life.
In 2005, the abduction, rape, and murder of nine year old Jessica Marie Lunsford made more than national news. It also made a man from Jackson County into a sex offender’s worst nightmare.
"To take something away from somebody, you're really picking a fight, especially when you're talking about a child," said Mark Lunsford.
Soon after laying Jessica to rest, Mark went across the country and now thirty three states have tougher sex offender laws on the books.
"So the only way that I had to fight back was not to just punish one, but to try to punish them all, make all their lives miserable," Mark said.
People in Jackson County are helping Mark fight back with a bluegrass concert. Mark knows the work doesn't stop here. He will continue to fight for children, for Jessica.
"It’s not something that just popped up. It’s always been there but the people needed someone to speak up and I've got a big mouth. I've been a single father for fifteen years and I didn't do it for someone could take one away from me," he said.
All proceeds for the concert went to the Jessica Marie Lunsford Foundation for Child Advocacy Awareness.
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LANCASTER COUNTY - Last week, as Halloween came and went, children were surrounded by scary creatures, mostly of the imaginary variety.
Talking to children about make-believe monsters can be easy. Talking to kids about truly frightening beings — adults who would seek to hurt them — is a more daunting task.
How grownups handle this difficult subject is a matter of concern to child-safety experts — and a matter of some controversy, according to a recent column in the Wall Street Journal.
A columnist for that newspaper asserted that grown-ups were teaching children to fear men in an effort to keep kids safe from abusers and would-be abductors.
That paper noted that children who get lost in public places are encouraged to look for a "low-risk adult" — such as a pregnant woman, or a mom pushing a stroller — to help them. It pointed out that airlines place unaccompanied minors with female passengers, not male ones.
And it discussed child advocate John Walsh's warning that parents should never hire male baby sitters.
Walsh is the host of Fox's "America's Most Wanted." After his own son, Adam, was abducted and murdered in 1981, Walsh became one of this country's best-known crusaders for the protection of children.
"It's not a witch hunt," Walsh told the Wall Street Journal. "It's all about minimizing risks. What dog is more likely to bite and hurt you? A Doberman, not a poodle. Who's more likely to molest a child? A male."
These comments by Walsh set off a firestorm. So, too, did a billboard campaign launched by Virginia's Department of Health last summer. Aiming to publicize its Stop It Now! help line, which people can call if they suspect abuse, the state paid for billboards for one month.
The billboards featured a photo of a man holding a child's hand, and the caption, "It doesn't feel right when I see them together."
The National Fatherhood Initiative, founded in Lancaster and now based in Maryland, promotes the involvement of fathers in their children's lives. The fatherhood organization was among the groups outraged by the implication that a man holding a child's hand should be considered sinister.
Vincent DiCaro, director of public affairs for the organization, said the billboards unfairly suggested that all men were threats to children.
According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, the perpetrators of sexual abuse are overwhelmingly male.
But, said DiCaro, the "vast, vast majority of men are not sexual abusers." He said that fearmongering that suggests that children are not safe around any men "can discourage men from being involved in children's lives."
And the absence of a father, or another trustworthy man, in a child's life actually can make that child more vulnerable to a predator, DiCaro said.
Richard Kerper, a professor in elementary and early childhood education at Millersville University, said his male students are very conscious of the challenge they will face, teaching children in a world that sometimes looks askance at men who work closely with little kids.
"Unfortunately, with all that's gone on, it's the modern world, and it's an issue that we have to deal with," he said.
He said the university addresses professional conduct throughout the education curriculum — with its female and male students alike.
"We're not dealing with it in a sensational way," he said. "We're just trying to make all students aware of what is appropriate and inappropriate."
One student recently told him that he'd been taught to hug a student without really touching that student — it was kind of an air-hug method.
Kerper has two school-age daughters of his own, so he said he understands the need for caution where children are concerned.
But he said he would hate to see this concern discourage young men from choosing careers in early education. Young boys, like young girls, need role models, he said. "We need diversity of all sorts in our classrooms."
The fear factor
Those who are working to prevent sexual violence, and other forms of abuse against children, say it doesn't help to make children fearful of men – or fearful at all, for that matter.
Child-safety experts say that parents need to talk about this subject, even if it scares them deeply, without passing on their fear to their kids.
"Fear is not a good motivator or teaching tool," said Nancy McBride, national safety director for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
"Kids live in the real world," McBride said. "They know it's a scary place. ... We don't need in any way to reinforce any kind of fear. That is just so counterproductive."
McBride said that adults, first of all, need to make it clear to children that the onus of assuring their safety "rests squarely on our shoulders as adults."
Moreover, she said, "the whole stranger-danger thing needs to be retired — put in a museum or something."
The reality, she and other experts stress, is that children most often are victimized by people they know rather than by strangers.
According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, acquaintances are most often the perpetrators of child sex abuse, followed by family members, and then strangers.
One Lancaster mom of a teenage girl said she never let her daughter out of her sight when they were outside of their city home. She was careful not to let her daughter be on the Internet, unsupervised. She warned her child to run screaming if any stranger attempted to get her into his car.
It never occurred to her, she said, to prepare her daughter for the unwanted advances of junior-high boys, and she was shocked to realize those boys were the most real threat her child ever had faced. When school officials were unresponsive, dismissing the incidents as boys being boys, this mom said she took her daughter to therapy — and to karate classes.
Weaving a safety net
It's probably easier to discuss the specter of a faceless, threatening stranger, than to talk about threats from the real people in a child's life, this mom acknowledged.
It may be easier, but it may not always be helpful, said McBride of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Indeed, she said, there may be an instance when children may need to seek help from strangers.
McBride cited the case of the 11-year-old Boy Scout who was lost in the Utah wilderness for four days in June 2005. The boy saw rescuers on horseback, but avoided them, because his parents had told him never to talk to strangers.
McBride said children who become separated from their parents or care-givers in a public place should be told to seek out "low-risk helping adults" — a store clerk wearing a name tag, a uniformed law enforcement officer, or a grown-up who is with other children.
As for the latter, she said, it most likely will be a woman: the reality is that women are more likely to be at the mall, or grocery store, with children. But McBride said she doesn't specifically tell children to seek out only women.
She does warn grown-ups, however, against ever telling their children that if they misbehave, they're going to call the police. "We really want kids to know that there are people who can help them," she said. "We cannot leave our children surrounded by a sea of strangers, quote-unquote, so they have no safety net."
She does not rule out men from being part of this safety net. Said McBride: "I think the risk there is, are we eliminating half of the population who essentially could come to a child's aid, if a child was in trouble?"
Carol Nodgaard, special projects and prevention coordinator for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said that where sexual abuse is concerned, "men need to be part of the solution."
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is piloting a program called the "HERO Project," which encourages non-mandated reporters — people who are not required by law to report abuse — to pay attention to, and report, suspected child sexual abuse.
Nodgaard said men, as well as women, need to take responsibility for the safety and well-being of children. And men, she said, can be instrumental in changing a male culture that subtly, and not so subtly, encourages the devaluing of girls and women.
Jodi Reinhart, director of prevention education for the YWCA of Lancaster, said that parents can help their kids by teaching them the correct names for all of their body parts. And, she said, "The same way you would teach a child to cross the street, you'd give them rules about touching."
Parents should not insist that their kids kiss or hug anyone. "This teaches them that they're not in control of their bodies," she said.
Some parents are reluctant to talk about these issues with very young children, but this is about "body safety," not sexuality, and "it's about empowering children," she said.
Research indicates that one in four girls, and one in six boys, will be sexually abused or assaulted by the time they reach the age of 18, Reinhart said, and so it's imperative that parents start teaching their kids from an early age that their bodies are their own.
Reinhart said she wouldn't rule out hiring male baby sitters, but she would recommend that parents be very careful when choosing anyone to watch their kids.
"Sometimes, we just choose a child down the street because they're old enough," Reinhart said.
Parents, she said, should get references for their baby sitters. Even if the baby sitter is a teen who's going to look after a child only occasionally, the parents should talk to other parents who have used that baby sitter.
John Walsh isn't the only one who warns against hiring male baby sitters. The Web site Safer Child Inc. also urges caution, saying that statistically, a child is at greater risk of being sexually abused by a male baby sitter than by a female one.
But Nodgaard of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape said it would be simplistic to say that "if you never hire a male baby sitter, your child is going to be safe from sexual abuse."
Parents should pay attention to anyone — Sunday school teacher, coach, music teacher, baby sitter — who is spending time with their children, and they should be aware of how those people behave around their kids, she said, noting, "Parents just need to pay attention and trust their gut."
Suzanne Cassidy is a staff writer for the Sunday News. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
View the article here | Convicted Here (11/05/2007)
Jurors consider the case of a former Miami-Dade officer accused of molesting teenagers.
A jury will return Monday to continue deliberations in the sordid case against former Miami-Dade Police Officer Paul Brosky, who is accused of molesting girls during traffic stops in 2002.
The prosecution claims Brosky was a cop who took advantage of the badge to intimidate three teenage girls -- and then molest them.
The defense counters that the girls used their youth and apparent innocence in a complex scheme to ruin a police officer's career, and get a pay-out for themselves, by falsely claiming he violated them.
The jury has sat through two weeks of testimony, hearing from three women and two of their boyfriends. All three women tell the same story.
Each woman said their individual encounters with Brosky took place in the summer of 2002 when they were driving a car and were pulled over by the police officer.
One woman said she was stopped by Brosky, who then fondled her breasts.
The other two said he fondled and molested them, claiming it was part of a normal search.
Two boyfriends testified that they weren't in a position to see the alleged attacks, but verified to the jury other details of the women's accounts of what happened.
Assistant State Attorney Bill Altfield pointed out that the stories of all five were ''strikingly similar'' and told the jury that Brosky's behavior was part of a pattern -- a cop stepping over the line.
''His lawful authority ended when he -- that defendant there -- decided to abuse that authority,'' Altfield said, pointing at Brosky.
The jury is only charged with deciding if one of the women was molested.
Brosky isn't charged in a case involving the second woman; the third woman's allegations will be heard in a separate trial.
Brosky's attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, pointed out that all three of the women have sued Brosky and the police department.
The department, which fired Brosky shortly after he was arrested, has already settled with one of the women.
Schwartzreich also questioned their claims that they didn't know each other and had never discussed their allegations, pointing out to the jury that all three attended the same high school.
''In my heart of hearts, it scares me that you don't know these people and they can come in here and cry and you can convict this man based on just words,'' he told the jury.
If convicted, Brosky faces life in prison.
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A 44-year-old Scranton police officer accused of fondling a 16-year-old girl surrendered to New York state police Friday only to face more charges.
Theodore Schmidt was arraigned in Kirkwood, N.Y., on charges of third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors.
After posting $1,500 bail, state police officers escorted Officer Schmidt to the nearby town of Triangle, where he was arraigned on the same charges.
“The charges in Triangle are the same as in Kirkwood with the same girl,” New York state police senior investigator George Goodall Jr. said. “The incident in Triangle happened within the same time period as the incident in Kirkwood.”
Officer Schmidt, who has been on disability leave from the Scranton Police Department since October 2006 because of a work-related injury, was originally charged Wednesday for fondling the teenager in the parking lot of the Five Mile Point Speedway in Kirkwood on Oct. 13.
The age of consent in New York is 17.
A 17-year veteran of the Scranton police department, Officer Schmidt was suspended without pay after his arrest.
Scranton Public Safety Director Ray Hayes said he hopes the charges against Office Schmidt do not mar the work of other Scranton police officers who “go out and do an excellent job every day.”
If convicted, Officer Schmidt faces a maximum of 15 months in jail, Investigator Goodall said.
Officer Schmidt pleaded guilty to simple assault in a 1996 domestic violence incident, but later withdrew that plea saying he didn’t fully understand its implications.
The incident involved his girlfriend, Rose Maxwell, who said she lied about the July 22, 1996, incident that led to the officer’s plea because she was mentally ill at the time.
She said she provoked the argument by biting Officer Schmidt on the arm. Officer Schmidt said he yanked her arm away because he was afraid she might grab his handgun.
He pleaded guilty, the officer said, because he thought his job was safe and he did not want to see Ms. Maxwell go through a trial. The two reconciled in 1999 after Ms. Maxwell agreed to seek mental-health treatment.
Although police declined to say how long they had been investigating Officer Schmidt, local authorities had been informed of the investigation some time ago, Investigator Goodall said.
“The Pennsylvania State Police and the Scranton Police Department had been made aware from the onset of the investigation and both cooperated,” he said.