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Houseparent bound over in school sex case

April 25, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Nine current and former Scotland School for Veterans Children students testified Tuesday in a preliminary hearing for a former houseparent charged with sexually molesting them between October 1998 and November 1999.

At the end of the 3 1/2 hour hearing, District Justice Larry K. Meminger ordered the case against Charles L. McGuire Jr., 40, of Chambersburg, bound over for court. He is scheduled for mandatory arraignment in Franklin County Court on June 7, Meminger said.

McGuire had been charged by Pennsylvania State Police on March 21 with 18 counts of indecent assault and nine counts each of corruption of minors and unlawful contact or communications with a minor. McGuire, who was suspended by the school on Dec. 3 and fired on Jan. 11, was released on $10,000 unsecured bond after he was charged, according to court records.

Two indecent assault charges involving one of the students were withdrawn at the request of Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom. "I didn't think there was a sufficient basis" for the charges, Krom said after the hearing.

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According to the affidavits of probable cause filed last month, police allege the students were touched on their genitals during ringworm examinations and uniform inspections. The affidavits also alleged the houseparent discussed having sex with his wife and made suggestions as to where students could have sex on campus and not get caught.

The incidents were alleged to have happened in the living rooms, showers and bedrooms of the two cottages where McGuire was a houseparent the past two years, according to court records.

"He would check under your arms, under your private parts, under your neck and your head," a 12-year-old former student testified. Once or twice the student's zipper was down during uniform inspection, he said. "He'd, like, poke you and zip it up."

"He told the places to go to have sex, like Cottage 29. It's a closed cottage," a fifth-grader at the school testified.

The student said he asked McGuire for a basketball once and McGuire made a sexual remark to him. On cross-examination by defense attorney William Fetterhoff, the boy could not remember when it happened and said he did not report the incident.

Several students testified McGuire told them places they could go to have sex and talked about his having sex with his wife. Most said McGuire did not verbally proposition them.

One student said McGuire touched his genitals through his pajamas more than once. He said he told McGuire to stop.

"I didn't think it was a joke. I didn't think it was sexual harassment, either," the 11-year-old said.

Ronald Sheppard, the business manager of the residential school, testified that the school began an investigation on Dec. 2. "A student came to one of our houseparents with a complaint of seeing another student on Mr. McGuire's lap," he said.

Sheppard said houseparents could check for ringworm or other medical problems, but the alleged extent of the exams was "unwarranted."

Fetterhoff said there had been more than 100 diagnosed cases of ringworm at the school during 1998 and 1999.

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