David T. Stevenson, a 55-year-old former employee at Lancaster County’s Youth Intervention Center, has been sentenced to between 10 and 25 years in Pennsylvania prison for assaulting five girls at the detention and rehabilitation facility. Stevenson pleaded guilty to 20 counts of sexual misconduct involving 3 girls and pleaded no contest to 8 other counts related to 2 girls.
Youth Intervention Center Worker Gets 10 – 25 Years For Child Sexual Assault
In court hearings, Stevenson confessed to having sexually assaulted girls “as young as 14 years old,” LancasterOnline writes. He started working as a youth counselor at the center, which is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, in 2016. He resigned from his post in June 2017 after being approached by other staff members with reports of his sexual misconduct.
Survivors Still Struggling
At least one of Stevenson’s victims was present at his plea hearing, but she declined to address the courtroom. In an interview, detective Aaron Harnish told reporters at LancasterOnline of the lasting impact Stevenson’s heinous actions have had on the young women who were under his charge.
“The victims I’m in contact with are still struggling to process what Mr. Stevenson did to them,” Harnish said. “I’m happy Mr. Stevenson accepted responsibility for what he did.”
Stevenson Preyed On Shelter Youth
At his plea hearing, Stevenson wept, telling the court, “I am ready to pay for my mistakes and I apologize to all the victims.” He molested 5 girls during his time at the Youth Intervention Center, prosecutors say, picking his victims from the facility’s dependency population.
Alongside detention and treatment services, the Youth Intervention Center also operates a shelter for at-risk youth who are awaiting placement in a foster home. These dependents, for Stevenson, became a pool of victims.
Charges Of Sexual Misconduct & Solicitation
Stevenson pleaded guilty to numerous criminal charges, including aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors, institutional sexual assault and criminal solicitation.
Some of the prosecutor’s allegations are truly horrific. At his hearing, Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick accused Stevenson of exposing himself and making lewd comments to multiple young girls. He molested one victim, then provided with her a razor blade, telling her to slit her wrists so she could be transferred to a mental health facility where it would be easier to pick her up for sex, Haverstick claimed.
After another victim ran away from the center, Stevenson met her outside and paid her $100. He messaged her on Facebook and attempted to solicit her for sex, the Assistant District Attorney continued. Stevenson denied the allegations in relation to two alleged victims, pleading no contest, rather than guilty, to the charges.
A plea of no contest implies no admission of guilt, but acknowledges that the defendant would be unlikely to prevail in a criminal trial.
Youth Center Says Background Checks Were Thorough
In an interview last year, Youth Intervention Center’s director, Drew Fredericks, told LancasterOnline that Stevenson had passed his background check with flying colors. Prior to his conviction, Stevenson had no criminal record. He served in the Army for six years and completed a college degree.
Lancaster County Officials Stand Behind Case’s Handling
Christina Hausner, Lancaster County solicitor, reiterated Fredericks’ argument in an email after Stevenson’s sentencing hearing. Calling the Youth Intervention Center a “leader in its field,” Hausner noted that the facility had received a perfect store from state inspection units four years running.
“Unfortunately,” Hausner wrote, “even the most professional facility, with the most rigorous background checks, is not totally immune from individuals determined to commit crimes.”