A 14-year-old boy whose parents are deceased and who recently absconded from a foster home and committed a burglary in Greenfield Township has been sent to a special-needs program at a juvenile treatment center in Grove City.
"You are walking around like you have a bag of rocks on your shoulder," Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva told the youngster when he appeared in Juvenile Court Wednesday.
The judge told the youngster to open up to therapists and unburden himself concerning what was bothering him. "Secrets make you sick. ... Getting it out makes a difference," she said.
Kopriva admitted that the process won't be easy, stating it is difficult to confront those things that give a person so much pain.
Molly Wink, a supervisor in the Blair County Juvenile Probation Office, said the boy will be admitted to a special-needs program at George Junior Republic in Grove City, a treatment center frequently used by the juvenile court.
The boy, who has been in an adoptive home and foster homes because of the deaths of his parents, appeared in court Wednesday with shackles and under close guard of two sheriff's deputies.
The Blair County juvenile probation office has a policy of not shackling juveniles during a court appearance, but the 14-year-old has a tendency to flee, which was why shackles were used and why the boy was in trouble.
Blair County Assistance District Attorney Deanne Paul said the juvenile and another youth recently burglarized a Greenfield Township residence after he fled from a foster home.
The boy was on the lam for several days.
The goods stolen from that burglary included two guns.
Greenfield Township Police Chief Ron Givler said during the court hearing, "The only way [the juvenile] is going to succeed is if he has the hunger, drive, passion and courage to change. I am hoping our system doesn't fail him, and this is what happens."
The judge found the youngster both delinquent because of his criminal acts and dependent because of his need to address the problems stemming from the loss of his parents. The finding means the 14-year-old will be under the supervision of both the county's juvenile probation department and the county child welfare agency.
The judge said the treatment facility must address the youngster's education needs, the problems in his life stemming from his "significant trauma and grief and loss" and his present "behavior patterns" that got him in trouble with the law.
If he graduates from the program, the judge held out the possibility his record would be expunged.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.