Susquehanna Township school administrators will not face charges

Written by Marie Cusick | Jan 31, 2014 4:50 PM

Photo by Marie Cusick/witf

(Harrisburg) -- A Dauphin County grand jury has found no need to press criminal charges against Susquehanna Township School district administrators for being slow to report allegations an assistant principal was having a sexual relationship with a student.

The school’s assistant principal, Shawn Sharkey, has been charged with having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student.

The grand jury was looking to whether school staff was too slow to report the allegations to police.

The school first heard rumors of the relationship in May 2013. After an internal investigation found the rumors to be unsubstantiated, the staff acted on the advice of a solicitor and did not contact law enforcement.

Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico says it wasn’t until four months later when another student came forward that the police were contacted.

“I think the school district could have done a better job, that’s probably the best way of putting it. In retrospect, they mishandled it. Lesson learned," he says. "It should have been reported when they had those rumors back in May of 2013.”

The assistant principal faces three felony charges including institutional sexual assault of a minor.

He will be arraigned next month.

The district released a statement in response today:

The Susquehanna Twp. School District respects the diligence and thoroughness shown by District Attorney Ed Marsico and Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo as well as the thoughtful work from members of the grand jury.

We also appreciate their efforts to make recommendations to state legislators to increase clarity for schools and government agencies in both hiring practices and reporting situations.

“We are anxious for the spotlight to return to our district’s academic, athletic and artistic achievements,” Susan Kegerise, superintendent, said.

The district’s response is related to this afternoon’s press conference. We have no further comment at this time.

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