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Melee at youth center injures six

five arrested

April 25, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

SOUTH MOUNTAIN, Pa. - Five girls at VisionQuest youth detention center were charged Monday night with aggravated and simple assault following a melee involving Pennsylvania State Police, camp staff members and more than 40 youths, police said.

One trooper and five staff members were hurt in the brawl, none seriously, police said.

Nearly a dozen police cruisers responded to the South Mountain camp from four neighboring counties, said Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. John Rosenberger, the investigating officer.

Rosenberger said he and Trooper James Johnston responded to the camp on Pa. 233 around 7 p.m. for a reported fight between two juveniles. He said he and Johnston were leaving the building after handling the fight when "40 or 50 juveniles outside started a melee."

"They were fighting with staff members," he said. "Trooper Johnston stepped in, and he was hit from behind."

Rosenberger said he sent out a call for all available units to respond. He said more than 10 police cruisers from Pennsylvania police and sheriff's departments in Carlisle, Gettysburg, Washington Township, Waynesboro and Fulton County responded.

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The juveniles settled down as soon as police arrived, Rosenberger said. Officers remained at the camp for about 30 minutes.

Among the VisionQuest staff members assaulted were David Morris, John Thompson, Diane Coons, Joseph Simpson and Jon Greenwalt, according to Rosenberger's report.

The five girls at the detention facility were charged with aggravated and simple assault, Rosenberger said. Some were taken by juvenile authorities and some were sent back to the camp, police said.

Rosenberger said he didn't know what started the melee.

Jerry Fox, lodge master at VisionQuest, refused to comment on the incident. Pat Yeager, spokeswoman for the camp, did not return phone calls Tuesday night.

VisonQuest, a private, for-profit facility paid by the jurisdictions that send their troubled juveniles there, opened in 1992. It houses about 120 juvenile offenders sent there by the courts for crimes against property and drug and alcohol abuse. Most come from the state's urban areas.

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