Local lawyer pushes for stricter standards for reporting child abuse

Members of the local law community are reacting to how Penn State’s administration handled allegations that former football Coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused 8 boys.

Lawyer Jason Kutulakis of Abom & Kutulakis law firm in Carlisle says the allegations surrounding his alma mater are difficult to hear.

“From the perspective of being actually a parent, I’m outraged by the alleged conduct, or lack thereof on behalf of Penn State,” he said.

Kutulakis says he has requested an amendment to the Child Protective Services Law in light of the recent allegations.

Under current law, a mandated reporter in a schools setting is required to report the suspicion of child abuse to a school administrator. However, that administrator has the power to decide whether or not the claim warrants getting law enforcement and other child advocacy groups involved.

Kutulakis says this situation is a good example of how the current law is leaving children unprotected.

“The Child Protective Services system is there to protect those who are the most vulnerable, and that’s our youth,” he said, “We must rally around them whenever there is an allegation of child abuse.”

He said Senate Bill 549 touches on making changes to the current Child Protective Services Law, that could help more cases of child abuse get reported by school administrators.

By Jeannie Flitner – ABC27

Court Report: Same old song and dance

While every defendant gets a chance speak at sentencing, sometimes it’s better when they choose not to and instead accept the penalty for their previous actions.

Especially when the judge is familiar with the defendants and their previous records.

For several of the sentencings on June 28, the judges in the Cumberland County Courthouse appeared to be done listening and ready to get straight answers.

Darrell Marlin Anderson

After having already granted Darrell Marlin Anderson two continuances, Judge Edward Guido was leery of giving the repeat offender any more postponements.

Anderson, 51, pleaded guilty on April 14 to driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content level of more than 0.16 percent in July 2010. The offense was the third of subsequent DUI offense for the Palmyra man, who has numerous dockets from several counties.

As part of his parole from prison on those previous sentences, Anderson was ordered to abstain from alcohol.

Back on May 31, Anderson told the Guido that he needed at least three more weeks before beginning his sentence to help finish building a new barn for his mother.

The judge graciously granted the request and rescheduled for June 28.

Standing before Guido that morning, Anderson said he again needed about two to three weeks to finish up.

“I don’t have in mind to continue it,” Guido said flatly, peering up over his glasses.

Anderson explained that he had lost two of his workers after firing them when they messed up the equipment he was using. Without their added help and needing to repair the equipment, he lost significant time, he said.

“It caused a lot of complications for me,” Anderson said.

As the judge went back and forth with Anderson and First Assistant Public Defender Linda Hollinger, nothing seemed to be getting resolved.

Finally, Hollinger said that if Anderson was making up the story about the barn, his mother would be in the back of the courtroom waving at the judge.

Guido decided to ask the woman a few questions to test her son’s story.

The judge first asked about the barn, and the woman said she hoped it would be finished by winter at the rate the project was going.

Guido then questioned how much time Anderson spent each day working, and the woman said she believed about five hours or so.

After acknowledging that Anderson lives with her, Guido asked the all-important question: “How often does he drink?”

Pausing for a moment, the woman looked up at the judge and said, “I have to tell you the truth and he does drink.”

The judge did not waste any time.

He sentenced Anderson to one to five years in a state correctional institution and ordered him to pay a $2,500 fine.

Brian Richard Wiser

When Brian Richard Wiser got in trouble for drinking and driving the first time, one of the stipulations of his probation was to not drink alcohol.

However, the 27-year-old Shippensburg man pleaded guilty to his second driving under the influence offense May 31.

Despite the offenses, Wiser’s defense attorney, Joel Nori, told Guido that his client does not have a drinking problem.

“You don’t get to a 0.283 unless you have a drinking problem,” Guido said in disbelief.

Wiser offered to explain the high blood alcohol content level he had the night he was arrested for driving under the influence.

“You have to build up that tolerance to be able to stay conscious to get to that level of alcohol,” Guido said. “But if you want to dig a hole, go ahead.”

Wiser quickly changed his mind and prepared to hear his penalty.

Guido sentenced him to 90 days to five years in Cumberland County Prison and authorized him for work release. Wiser was also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine.

As a last minute thought, Nori asked if Wiser could self commit to the prison for his sentence on July 5, in order to spend the holiday weekend with his family.

“No, I’m sorry,” Guido said, putting the file aside.

Jun Hyun Kim

When it came time for the sentencing for Jun Hyun Kim, Guido made his priority very clear even before defense attorney John Abom began to speak about the DUI conviction.

“I’m not concerned as much with that as I was with the handgun,” Guido said. “He was driving around drunk with a loaded handgun. That brings up red flags all over the place, Mr. Abom.”

Guido referred to a previous incident when the 29-year-old Maryland man was also found with a handgun in his possession.

Abom began to explain how the incident was from Kim’s younger days and that he has since been accepted at the University of Maryland and become part of a nonprofit group.

“What I’m concerned about is the gun,” Guido said. “G-U-N.”

Abom acknowledged the concern and explained that while his client did not have a valid license to carry the firearm, he was legally allowed to possess one.

“I understand, but he’s got a history of gun possession, a history of prohibited offensive weapons possession,” Guido said.

When given a chance to speak, Kim lowered his head and apologized.

“I’m sorry sir,” he said. “It was a mistake. I would never hurt anybody. I just want to get past this.”

Guido sentenced him to 72 hours to six months and to pay a $1,000 fine for driving under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance, but acknowledged 16 days Kim previously served behind bars.

The judge also sentenced Kim to 23 months of supervised probation for possession of prohibited offensive weapons and to pay a $500 fine for unlawful possession of a small amount of marijuana.

With the credit, Kim was paroled immediately to begin his probation.

Derek Allen Spitz and Bradley Lee Eichelberger

Since it was the first time the young defendant standing before him was being tried as an adult, Judge Albert Masland wanted to make sure Derek Allen Spitz understood the possible consequences of his actions.

Defense attorney Allen Welch explained how Spitz was not fond of his last stay in jail and was hoping to receive a time-served sentence for the seven days he spent behind bars previously.

The 18-year-old Carlisle man pleaded guilty to simple assault, theft by unlawful taking or disposition and unlawful possession of a small amount of marijuana May 26.

Welch admitted that his client acted “for no good reason” when he and his friend, Bradley Lee Eichelberger, assaulted a person and stole $20 from the individual on Dec. 8, 2010.

“I’m not satisfied that seven days is sufficient,” Masland said, looking over the file.

He sentenced Spitz to spend 15 days to 12 months in prison for simple assault, in conjunction with a year of probation for the theft by unlawful taking or disposition conviction. The judge also order that Spitz pay $20 in restitution with Eichelberger and a $100 fine for the drug offense.

The judge acknowledged credit for the seven days and also made Spitz eligible for a re-entry program, which may cut a day or two from the sentence if he remains on his best behavior while incarcerated.

“I want to drill this home a little bit more, how severe this could have been, if things would have went differently,” Masland said.

When Eichelberger, 18, stood before Masland a few cases later, the judge stuck with his lesson plan.

“I do feel it’s important to impress upon you the gravity of this offense,” Masland said. “It could have been far worse.”

Masland sentenced the Carlisle teen to 15 days to 12 months as well and gave him credit for the six days he previously served for criminal conspiracy to simple assault. The judge authorized him for work release and to be eligible for a reentry program.

Masland also ordered the Eichelberger to undergo 12 months of probation and help repay the $20 in restitution with Spitz for criminal conspiracy to theft by unlawful taking.

Eichelberger pleaded guilty to both offenses on May 26.

By Stephanie Weaver – The Sentinel

Pa. Prosecutor approves charges against babysitter and girl, 10, in baby’s death

Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal said he has authorized charges against a young girl and her babysitter in the death of an infant at a Shippensburg home last summer.

Fogal said a charge of third-degree murder is appropriate for the girl, who was two weeks shy of her 10th birthday when her “violent acts” caused abusive head trauma to the baby and ultimately his death.

It was determined during a hearing Friday that girl will be tried in juvenile court rather than in adult criminal court. Fogal said she will be tried as a delinquent, however, meaning if convicted she could face time in a juvenile detention center.

The girl’s attorney, Jason Kutulakis, said he disputes the charge.

“There are no red flags that she formed an intent to kill,” said Kutulakis. “There are no red flags she has a mental disorder or a personality disorder. She’s a good student and she does not have a disciplinary problem, so it just doesn’t fit.”

Fogal said he additionally approved charges of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child against Dottie Bowers for “failing to seek immediate medical care” for 10-month-old Heath Ryder.

“I don’t want Dottie to be looked at as doing something wrong because all she did was what she thought was the right thing to do,” defense attorney Joseph Caraciolo said.

Involuntary manslaughter is a second-degree felony when the victim is under the age of 12, with a maximum penalty of 20 years. Bowers was arraigned Friday and released on $50,000 unsecured bail.

The filing of criminal complaints follow the findings of a coroner’s inquest, in which a jury on April 15 recommended the charge of involuntary manslaughter against Bowers and the third-degree murder charge against the unidentified girl, who is accused of shaking and tossing the baby July 29 at a home day care operated by Bowers.

Dr. Mark Dias, a pediatric neurosurgeon who treated Heath after he was taken to Penn State Hershey Medical Center, testified that the infant suffered extremely traumatic brain injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome. Dias described the injuries as “significant, violent trauma.”

The 10-year-old was called as a witness during the inquest, but chose to remain silent.

Dias added during the inquest that there wasn’t much doctors could do once Health arrived at the hospital, but said his injuries might have been treatable had Bowers called 911 when she found him unresponsive. Police testified that Bowers never called for help.

Heath’s mother, Shelly Ryder, told jurors that she made the emergency call after Bowers ignored her pleas. She said she was on her way home from work when Bowers phoned to tell her that Heath would not wake up and was breathing abnormally. She said she rushed to the home to find her son limp and lifeless, and called 911 while she performed CPR.

“I’ll never understand because this was a baby,” Ryder told abc27 Friday. “This was not an older child who could say to her ‘stop, you’re hurting me.’ This was a baby.”

Bowers was called before the coroner’s jury, but she also exercised her Fifth Amendment right to not testify.

Fogal said authorities met with Heath’s family at the conclusion of the investigation, and is in agreement with the decision to pursue criminal charges.

By Myles Snyder & Megan Healey – ABC27