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Mom alleges abuse at York YMCA summer camp

Written by Dylan Segelbaum/The York Daily Record | Feb 23, 2016 7:11 AM
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The mother of a 6-year-old boy said the organization failed to protect her son from being abused in 2015 by an older camper, who had been reported one year prior for the same conduct .

(York) -- A woman alleges in a lawsuit that the YMCA of York and York County failed to keep her son, then 5, from being sexually abused at camp in 2015 by a teenager who had been reported one year earlier for the same conduct.

The lawsuit was filed by the boy's mother, and states the YMCA of York and York County had a duty to protect her son at Camp Spirit in East Manchester Township -- and that he now suffers from "severe psychologies injures," such as nightmares, anxiety and depression. She is suing for counts including negligence and gross negligence.

The YMCA of the USA is also named as a defendant in the case. The lawsuit was filed last Wednesday in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, as the YMCA of York and York County "regularly conducts business" in the city.

YMCA of York and York County President and CEO Larry Richardson said he could not discuss the lawsuit, as the litigation is pending. A spokeswoman for the YMCA of the USA said in an email that it's the organization's policy not to talk about ongoing cases.

Nate Foote, an attorney who's involved in the case on behalf of the plaintiff, said "we'd just like to rest on the allegations in the complaint."

In 2014, the lawsuit states, a counselor at Camp Spirit found the teenager sexually abusing a male camper who had special needs. It's believed that staff members, including Richardson, did not report the case to the police, according to the lawsuit.

Then, on July 3, 2015, a counselor caught the teenager sexually abusing the child whose mother is now suing. That counselor, Kelsey Martin, was "utterly unfit to supervise children," the lawsuit states.

The complaint notes it's believed that Martin was under investigation at the time.  Martin, 21, of Springettsbury Township, was charged on Jan. 28, after police said she concealed the death of her newborn child last April.

Chris Ferro, an attorney who's representing Martin, said he believes that she "acted appropriately at all times as a counselor, and has been incredibly helpful and cooperative with the law enforcement investigation." Ferro said he does not anticipate any charges being filed.

Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo said the department was made aware of the allegations in late summer and is investigating. Police, he said, are "looking at all avenues."

*This article is part of a content-sharing agreement between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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