WINDSOR TOWNSHIP, PA – Stephen Henise, 26, a former York Country Day School teacher was recently sentenced to 23 years of prison in the York County jail. Two weeks ago, Henise was awaiting trial for the allegations of sexually abusing a 17-year-old student. After he pleaded guilty of kissing and groping the minor on various occasions, Judge Gregory M. Snyder handed down his sentence.
The effects of sexual abuse can be devastating for a victim irrespective of the perpetrator being a fellow student or a teacher. But when a school staff member –in an authority position and entrusted with the responsibility to care for the child — abuses power and exploits a child, the harmful effects are compounded. Tragically, too often such abuse has gone unpunished; worse, in other cases, known sexual abusers have been moved to different schools (“passing the trash”) and allowed to repeat their criminal conduct.
The Northern York County Regional Police Department released a statement after Henise’s arrest and reported that he had met the student when he worked as a long-term substitute. Henise was later appointed as a full time ninth-grade biology teacher in the 2019-2020 school year. After his arrest and during further interrogations, Henise confessed to engaging the student in sexual intercourse after she turned 18.
While it is mandatory in many states to report an abuse by a teacher, not all jurisdictions have laws prohibiting “passing the trash” (or requiring that a school share the data that arises out of an investigation concerning child sexual abuse with later schools completing reference checks). In some circumstances, this has resulted in a school that excused an educator because of suspected abuse failing to advise a subsequent school that is considering hiring the suspected abuse. As a result, an abusive teacher may not only walk free, but even be employed as a teacher in a different school within the same state – a circumstance known as “passing the trash”.
Another loophole that often arises in school abuse cases is that if an educator has their permit revoked/denied for misconduct with a student in one state, it doesn’t naturally result in a permit being withdrawn/prohibited in another state.
The attorneys at Crew Janci LLP understand that the safety of children within schools is of the utmost importance.
If you or someone you love has been sexually abused by a teacher, guidance counselor, administrator, coach, or other school staff member, give us a call at 1-888-407-0224 or send a confidential message to Crew Janci LLP today to speak with experienced attorneys who can help.