Youths disciplined for missing restitution deadline

January 09, 1997


Staff Writer

Ignoring a deadline for paying restitution proved costly Wednesday in Washington County Juvenile Court for two teens implicated in the October 1995 destruction of the Springfield Middle School scoreboard.

Also taking heat was the Washington County Department of Juvenile Justice, which prosecutors said "dropped the ball," allowing the nonpayment to go unreported for almost a year.

"It is unfortunate we are here," said Assistant State's Attorney Susan Lochbaum.

Originally, three boys were charged and each was ordered to pay $50 restitution last January when they appeared for an informal hearing with juvenile caseworkers, Lochbaum said.


One boy paid right away but the other two didn't, Lochbaum said, and juvenile justice officials didn't bring it to anyone's attention.

"We didn't know until Principal Roger Stenerson called us, saying they hadn't been paid," she said.

One of the three 14-year-olds testified that he and another of the boys went to the Williamsport area school on Oct. 7, 1995, during homecoming weekend activities.

He said he and his friend ripped the sign and the poles down, according to testimony. Those two boys then went back to Williamsport High School, got the third youth and returned to Springfield.

They then jumped up and down on the sign, broke it up and threw the pieces in a stream, one boy testified.

Stenerson testified the sign was valued at $100 and said a tree that was uprooted and destroyed was worth $50.

Once the boys were identified, Stenerson interviewed them, wrote down the information and then wrote it up on a letter which each boy signed, admitting participation.

One boy denied breaking down the sign but admitted he signed the form because he felt guilty.

"I was with them and I kept watch," the boy said.

The other two boys testified that all three involved in the jumping up and down on the sign.

Troubled by the incident, Judge John H. McDowell was further disturbed by the delay and by the poor school reports on the two boys appearing in court Wednesday.

"I'm not going to let this school behavior continue," McDowell said.

He placed each of the two boys on supervised probation for nine months, ordered 35 hours of community service and no more poor behavior.

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