Sunday, July 15, 2001

'Boot camp' accused of abuse

Claims two girls sexually assaulted halt judges' sentencing kids there

The Associated Press

        LANCASTER, Ohio — Two southeast Ohio judges said they will not sentence troubled youths to a military-style boot camp until an investigation is completed into allegations that a worker sexually assaulted two girls.

        A 14-year-old Pickerington girl and a 15-year-old Canal Winchester girl filed the complaints this month with the Fairfield County Sheriff's office.

        The JUMP boot camp, whose initials stand for Juveniles United Making Progress, opened about a year ago in Bremen.

        Earlier this year, two former workers at the privately run camp were accused of mistreating a 13-year-old boy by dunking him in a barrel of cold water because he kept falling asleep.

        Jimmy Monroe, 31, of Logan was charged with child endangerment, and Todd Coleman, 29, of Bremen was charged with complicity to commit child endangerment. Both have pleaded not guilty and face trial next month in Fairfield County Municipal Court.

        Fairfield County stopped sending juvenile offenders to the camp after the boy was allegedly mistreated, but resumed after state workers inspected the camp and recommended reforms the camp adopted, said county Juvenile Court director Cheri Shaw.

        She said that after learning of the sexual-assault investigation last week, Juvenile Court Judge Steven Williams decided he will not send youths there. Perry County's juvenile court also has stopped sending children there.

        Camp director Larry Cunningham said he fired a 33-year-old man who had worked at the camp for six months after the sexual-assault allegations were made. Sheriff's deputies are looking for the man so they can question him. No charges have been filed.

        Mr. Cunningham estimated that about 400 youngsters, ages 12 to 18, have gone through the camp. Many were referred by Williams and Perry County Juvenile Court Judge Luann Cooperrider. Others were sent by parents, who hoped the $80-a-day-camp would help their troubled children.


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