A former Catholic high school teacher in Pennsylvania pled guilty last month to charges of sexual abuse of 2 students. See Commonwealth v. Zurenko, Randi (CP-22-CR-0006426-2016). According to the docket, the plea hearing took place on February 28, 2017.
The Pennsylvania PA Sexual Offenders Assessment Board will conduct an assessment to determine whether she should be classified as a sexually violent predator.
The case involved allegations that the high school teacher sexually abused two older students at Bishop McDevitt High School which is located in Harrisburg, Dauphin County. The conduct is alleged to have occurred between 2013 and 2016.
The charges include over 150 counts of institutional sexual assault, sexual abuse of children, unlawful contact with minors, etc. See www.pennlive.com, Bishop McDevitt teacher charged with 153 counts of sexually abusing children (accessed on March 14, 2017). A jail or prison term is likely, given the extent of the allegations, length of the conduct and allegation that the teacher gave the students alcohol.
Related: Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Priest Abuse News – Grand Jury Report Shows Pervasive Sex Abuse (2016) [A grand jury investigation into the Catholic Church of Altoona-Johnstown revealed an extensive amount of sexual abuse of children by priests and church employees over the course of decades. Due to Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations laws, the criminal cases are too old to be pursued.]
Catholic Schools in Pennsylvania – Allegations of Sexual Abuse
Catholic schools across Pennsylvania have been under scrutiny in recent years. Even now, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office is investigating multiple dioceses in the state over allegations of sexual abuse of children and cover-ups by church officials.
Last year, an employee at Bishop Carroll High School in Cambria County, was arrested and charged with sexually abusing two foreign exchange students. See Commonwealth v. Thornberry, John Bowman, CP-11-CR-0001503-2016. The criminal case is still pending.
High School Teachers & Sexual Abuse of Older Students
Sexual abuse or assault of older students like high school students is very common. Cell phones and emails give teachers the ability to have private access to students. Parents are often in the dark about communications between their children and teachers. Seemingly innocent texts or emails can lead to secret meetings. Older students are often lulled into these types of “relationships.” At first, they may feel special or adult-like. But after a few weeks or months, students don’t know how to terminate the relationship. They often feel trapped or guilty. This is the nature of institutional sex abuse. A teacher or other educator in a position of power uses their position to engage in a relationship. Students often suffer lasting emotional harm and trauma.
If you or a loved one experienced sexual abuse in a high school in Pennsylvania, please contact our office and speak to one of our crime victims rights lawyers. Our firm has handled many school sex abuse cases throughout the area and nationwide. 215.399.9255
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