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Ex-houseparents at Pa. school faces charges

March 21, 2000|By DON AINES

SCOTLAND, Pa. - Pennsylvania State Police have charged a former houseparent at the Scotland School for Veterans' Children with molesting nine boys at the school, in some cases while pretending to examine them for ringworm or during uniform inspections.

Charles L. McGuire, 40, of 1521 Pin Oak Drive, Lot 21, Chambersburg, was charged Tuesday with nine counts of corruption of minors, nine counts of unlawful contact or communications with a minor and 18 counts of indecent assault.

He was released on an unsecured $10,000 bond following his arraignment before District Justice Larry Meminger. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday, March 30. There is no listed telephone number for McGuire at the address given by police.

All of the charges are first- or second-degree misdemeanors, according to state law. Conviction on all the counts would carry a maximum sentence of 116 years.

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State police said the incidents involved boys ages 10 and 11 and dated back to August 1998.

"We reported it to police after an internal investigation," said John Maietta, the press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which oversees the school in Greene Township, Pa.

"We became aware of the allegations on Dec. 2. At that time a student came to the administration regarding Mr. McGuire," Maietta said.

McGuire was suspended the next day and the department "found sufficient administrative grounds to terminate him on Jan. 11," Maietta alleged.

Maietta said McGuire had been employed by the school since 1994 and "at the time he had passed all the required background checks."

The affidavit of probable cause said the students were interviewed by state police between Dec. 6, 1999 and Feb. 25. The students gave consistent accounts of how the alleged abuse took place, police said.

Students at the cottages where McGuire was the houseparent alleged they were examined after evening showers for ringworm, including inspection of their genitals, the affidavit said. Some students alleged that they had been fondled during uniform inspection.

The police report said the school has a hospital and medical staff and no other personnel are authorized to perform medical examinations.

There were "explicit sexual conversations with some students," police allege in the affidavit. Most involved him having sexual relations with his wife, the affidavit said.

Areas of the school's campus where people could have sex without being caught were discussed, the affidavit alleges.

Maietta said the first incident reported by a student allegedly occurred in November 1999. Allegations of incidents dating prior to that time were developed by state police, he said.

The residential school's role is to provide "hope and opportunity for children from very difficult circumstances," he added.

The Scotland School for Veterans' Children has about 350 students in grades three through 12, Maietta said. They are the children or juvenile relatives of veterans from around Pennsylvania, mostly from the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas.

As in a military school, students dress in uniform and live in cottages or dorms, he said.

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