A Dauphin County grand jury says no criminal charges are warranted against any Susquehanna Township High School administrators or employees for failing to report an inappropriate relationship between an assistant principal and a 16-year-old student.
According to the grand jury's findings, released Friday by District Attorney Ed Marsico, school administrators did not criminally mishandle information concerning Shawn Sharkey, but did hinder the police investigation by following poor legal advice.
“The administration refrained from making a report to police on advice of their solicitor,” Marsico said.
Sharkey is accused of meeting the girl for sex at a Harrisburg-area hotel at least 10 times in February and March.
School administrators said they became aware of a rumor regarding Sharkey and conducted an internal investigation, but everyone interviewed denied any knowledge of any inappropriate relationship and ultimately there was no evidence that substantiated the rumor.
Police charged Sharkey with institutional sexual assault, corruption of minors and unlawful
contact with a minor in September, three days after a student reported the alleged relationship to a school resource officer. The school board accepted his resignation in October.
Marsico said school administrators lacked training in the questioning of victims, witnesses and suspects, and should have known better in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case.
“Unless it's along the lines of a Martian doing something, if there is any degree of credibility to it, it needs to be reported,” Marsico said.
In a statement, the district said it, “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,” superintendent Susan Kegerise said in the statement.