WEST WHITELAND — Police arrested a 23-year-old former employee of Devereux, after he allegedly went to the site to see a 14-year-old special needs girl, who he reportedly called his “true flame.”
Police arrested Russell J. Amen, 23, of Downingtown, following a March 5 incident at the Devereux Kanner campus on East Boot Road. Police said he had been banned from the campus following his dismissal in December.
West Whiteland Detective Scott Pezick said the department waited to release information on the arrest until after interviews with the victim and the victim’s family were completed.
The following scenario allegedly unfolded about 10:45 p.m., according to police:
Police were dispatched to the Devereux campus for the report of a trespasser. Upon arrival, staff members told police that Amen was on property and therefore in violation of a ban the administration issued in December.
Amen allegedly attempted to access at least one of the Devereux facilities. Police then located Amen and allegedly found him to be in possession of marijuana. Police arrested him and charged him with burglary, trespassing, prowling, and drug possession.
In a subsequent interview, Amen allegedly told police the girl was his “true flame” and he had intended to either stay overnight with the girl or leave with her.
“He developed this unknown fascination with the girl while he worked there … and we don’t know why,” Pezick said. “This girl was not in a condition, based on her disability, to make a rational decision to leave with him. She wouldn’t have known any better and that’s the part that’s scary.”
Pezick said Devereux’s security measures prevented Amen from ever making contact with the girl.
An investigation into the past relationship between Amen and the juvenile is ongoing, police said.
Carol Oliver, Devereux’s director in Pennsylvania, said in a statement Thursday that administrators fired Amen after he allegedly violated employee policies.
“Mr. Amen was terminated more than three months ago due to concerns regarding his understanding of our policies and procedures regarding boundaries,” she said.
Devereux officials said Amen worked as a school-based direct care professional for less than a year. Officials declined to say whether Amen had previously worked with the victim, citing the victim’s privacy.
Oliver also said, “We have very strict policies regarding boundaries between staff and clients. We believe safe, therapeutic, healing care can only be delivered in an environment of complete professionalism. We train staff thoroughly on boundary issues before they begin working with our individuals and we have extensive safety policies in place to ensure this training is followed to the letter.”
The Kanner facility is a residential and education center for special needs youth.
Amen was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge DeAngelo in the Pottstown and sent to the Chester County Prison in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.
Amen’s preliminary hearing was Tuesday before Magisterial District Judge William Kraut. All charges were held for Chester County Common Pleas Court.
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