By Eric Veronikis Penn Live
The Dauphin County District Attorney's office arrested and charged a Bishop McDevitt High School teacher with dozens of child sex abuse counts Thursday.
Between January 1, 2013, and October 14, 2016, Zurenko sexually abused two Bishop McDevitt students while she was a teacher at the school in Lower Paxton Township, according to DA Ed Marsico Jr.'s office.
The DA's office said Zurenko and the first victim had "an encounter" at Fort Hunter park in Susquehanna Township before the student graduated in 2013.
During the meeting, Zurenko massaged the student's back and undid her bra, and she gave the underage victim alcohol several times, before and after the student graduated from Bishop McDevitt, the DA's office said.
Police interviewed the victim Monday and Tuesday.
In early 2015, Zurenko also began sexually abusing a second student, and continued to do so until Oct. 14, the DA's office said. Zurenko had sex with the second victim, according to the DA's office.
She also took pictures of the second student in various stages of undress, Marsico's office said, and took pictures of her and the student having sex.
Zurenko also sent the victim nude photos, according to the DA's office.
Detectives seized Zurenko's phone and other electronic devices and found numerous nude photos of the student, the DA's office said.
Authorities said the "sexual encounters" with the second victim occurred at various locations throughout Lower Paxton, Susquehanna and Swatara townships. They also took place at Zurenko's home and in Myrtle Beach, S.C., according to the DA's office.
The last encounter occurred Friday, and the victim was interviewed Tuesday, the DA's office said. On Tuesday, detectives also interviewed Zurenko, who admitted to providing alcohol to both victims while they were students at Bishop McDevitt, according to the DA's office.
She also admitted that she had sexual contact with and took nude photos of the second victim, the DA's office said.
Bishop McDevitt officials placed Zurenko on administrative leave when they were advised of the investigation Tuesday.
Anyone with information about the incidents may contact detective John O'Connor at 717-780-6432.
Bishop McDevitt High School is a private, coeducational Catholic high school of the Diocese of Harrisburg, located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States. Wikipedia
Address: 1 Crusader Way, Harrisburg, PA 17111, United States
Phone: +1 717-236-7973
Number of students: 842 (2008)
Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Gender: Mixed-sex education
Forgive me for making light of a dark situation but the last few words of the school's Wikipedia profile just struck me as being funny in a pathetic sort of way - 'mixed-sex education'!
DCYF - New Hampshire Dep't Children, Youth and Families
CONCORD — A lawsuit filed by the grandparents — now the adoptive parents — of two children who suffered horrific sexual and physical abuse by their biological parents blames the state’s child welfare agency and Easter Seals for negligence in handling the case.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Hillsborough County Superior Court on behalf of the grandparents, identified only as T.C. and D.C.
The children, ages 4 and 18 months at the time of the abuse, are identified only as N.B and J.B. Attorney Rus Rilee of Bedford claims in the lawsuit that the state Division for Children, Youth and Families and case workers from Easter Seals disregarded complaints from the grandparents and warning signs in police reports to allow unsupervised visits by the biological parents.
“The defendants, who previously required and oversaw supervised-only visits, actually began to permit the biological parents to have significant unsupervised time, during which they committed unfathomable, violent acts of sexual abuse upon N.B and J.B.,” the lawsuit states.
Some of the abuse occurred behind the closed door of a bathroom, with the Easter Seals caseworker in another room, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit, quoting Claremont police reports, goes into graphic detail on the abuse that occurred during supervised and unsupervised visits.
“The defendants later justified their decision to allow unsupervised time with the biological parent, with DCYF telling both T.C. and the investigating police officer that they had to give these parents “the opportunity to fail.”
That is utterly insane. When failure means the life-altering violent abuse of an infant, there is no rational way to justify allowing any possibility of failure. It is asinine decisions like this that come out of over-worked and over-stressed social workers. The government has to wear the responsibility for those two little children being hurt and messed-up.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for N.B. and J.B. for the “indescribable mental and emotional pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that they are suffering and will suffer indefinitely into the future,” as well as therapy and medical treatment and lost earning capacity. Rilee is demanding a jury trial.
The biological parents pleaded guilty to felonious sexual assault charges and manufacturing child sexual abuse images in 2014 and were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Calls for funding
At a news conference Thursday in Concord, Rilee announced the lawsuit and called on state officials to seek an emergency funding measure to enable the DCYF to add additional child protection workers, as recommended in a recently completed audit of DCYF operations by an outside agency.
Rilee also represents family members in the fatal child abuse cases of Brielle Gage in Nashua and Sadence Willott in Manchester, both of whom died from child abuse while their cases were under DCYF supervision.
Gov. Maggie Hassan called for an outside review of procedures at DCYF after those tragedies in 2014 and 2015.
Rilee said no one from the outside agency investigating DCYF has contacted him or any of his clients regarding their experience with the agency, even though he received assurances from Hassan that the Gage and Willott cases would be included in the outside review by the Maryland-based Center for the Support of Families.
Lawsuits in the Gage and Willott cases will follow, said Rilee, as soon as criminal proceedings in those cases are resolved.
“Hopefully this will shine some light on DCYF processes, and result in substantive changes in the agency,” he said. “Transparency breeds accountability.”
In August, Rilee won a precedent-setting case before the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which allowed him to file his lawsuits publicly over the objection of the Attorney General.
“The adoptive parents of N.B. and J.B. were determined to file a public lawsuit and to allow the press and the public access to the shocking and painful details of this case, while protecting the girls’ anonymity and privacy, in order to shine a light on the complete failure of DCYF,” said Rilee. “The family hopes that this lawsuit will help decision makers understand the need for immediate reform of DCYF to prevent this from happening to any more New Hampshire families.”
Rilee maintains that the sexual abuse suffered by the two girls was “100 percent foreseeable and 100 percent avoidable.”
“These two girls should never have been placed back into the care of the two monsters who inflicted this abuse on them,” he said.
Rilee said the state’s response to the preliminary report of the Center for the Support of Families has been inadequate. The independent analysis revealed that only 20 percent of DCYF cases are either closed or moved to the next phase within the required 60 days, and that the agency is understaffed to cope with the growing number of cases.
“Sadly, the only public response from DHHS to these shocking results has been that the findings of the study will be used to help DHHS craft its next budget,” said Rilee. “This is completely unacceptable. Abused and neglected children in New Hampshire cannot wait until the end of next June for help.”
DHHS - Dep't Health and Human Services, which, I presume, oversees DCYF.
Amanda Grady Sexton, public policy director of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said that group supports the call for immediate funding to address the recommendations of the study.
“There needs to be a serious discussion by the fiscal committee about whether or not there is an additional appropriation necessary prior to the budget cycle to ensure we are meeting at least the minimal national standards that are set to keep children safe,” she said.
Lawmakers are proposing emergency funding for dairy farmers and property owners affected by the closure of the Concord Steam utility. The Legislature was called into special session to vote on funding to battle the opioid addiction crisis.
“We keep funding as we should be these emergency measures, but where is the emphasis on funding services for the children who are so incredibly affected by the (opioid) crisis,” said Grady-Sexton.
DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers said he has already taken steps to respond to the staffing shortage, moving 22 positions from other divisions into Children, Youth and Families.
“These positions are difficult to fill because of workforce challenges and due to the nature of this work,” he said.
The Gage and Willott cases will be reviewed once the criminal proceedings in both cases are resolved, he said.
Pamela Dube, senior director of communications for Easter Seals of New Hampshire, said the agency cannot comment at length on a pending lawsuit.
“What we can say is that we are taking this matter very seriously and will cooperate with the authorities,” she said. “As an organization providing services to the community, we are committed to supporting children, adults and families every single day.”