Lawsuit: York CYF placed boy in foster care with known pedophile

David Weissman
York Dispatch
Ronald Witmer

The York County Office of Children, Youth and Families allegedly placed a boy in foster care with a convicted pedophile, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Oct. 3.

Ronald L. Witmer, 50, of Windsor Township, pleaded guilty on Aug. 14 to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and corruption of minors in response to charges of sexual abuse against the boy, now 13 years old, according to court documents.

On April 22, the boy went to the York Area Regional Police Department and reported that he had been sexually assaulted the night before, police said.

More:Police: Windsor Twp. man sexually assaulted teen

According to court documents, the teen was in a bedroom with Witmer when Witmer approached him and sexually assaulted him. The teen told police that these acts had occurred on "numerous occasions" over the past several months, police said.

Additionally, police say Witmer made the teen watch pornographic videos and look at pornographic magazines.

According to the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, county caseworkers took the boy from his mother in 2012 and placed him in foster care with Witmer.

Witmer and his wife, Mary Ann Stough, received legal custody of the boy in 2013, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit goes on to point out that Witmer had pleaded guilty to charges in 1989 related to allegations of fondling a 4-year-old boy's genitals and again in 1991 on charges stemming from allegations that he exposed himself to two young boys.

Attorney Nathaniel Foote, of Andreozzi and Associates, which is representing the boy and his mother, said the striking aspect of this case is how easily accessible those prior convictions were for them to find.

"We found them in a matter of minutes," Foote said. "It was all public information available online."

Agency issues: The lawsuit makes note of the child welfare agency's struggles, which began with a downgraded license starting in 2015.

The agency received four consecutive downgraded licenses before receiving its full license in October 2016. One more failed inspection would have meant the state's Department of Human Services would take over control of day-to-day operations.

A recent report by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale notes that the state's county caseworkers are often overworked, underpaid and inadequately trained.

More:Report: Pennsylvania child abuse workers swamped, underpaid

More:Faces of child abuse in York County

These factors have led to staff turnover as high as 90 percent in York County during a two-year period, according to the report.

In addition to the county, the lawsuit names county caseworkers Nan Mavor and Jacy Nemec and supervisor Cathy Lyman.

County spokesman Mark Walters said he couldn't confirm or deny the county's involvement in this case because of child privacy regulations.

Foote confirmed that legal custody of the boy was gradually being shifted back to his mother before charges were filed against Witmer, and she now has full custody of him.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.