A Lancaster County judge chastised a former Youth Intervention Center worker sentenced Wednesday to 10 to 25 years in state prison for sexually assaulting five girls in the secured facility’s shelter program.
“You took advantage of individuals entrusted to your care,” President Judge Dennis Reinaker said as David T. Stevenson, 55, a slender, bald man in prison togs, stood before him.
The girls likely had difficulties, Reinaker said, “and you no doubt made their lives worse.”
One of the victims attended the guilty plea hearing, but did not address the court.
“The victims I’m in contact with are still struggling to process what Mr. Stevenson did to them,” city Detective Aaron Harnish said after the hearing. “I’m happy Mr. Stevenson accepted responsibility for what he did.”
Stevenson, formerly of Reading, wept after pleading guilty to 20 counts related to three girls.
He also pleaded no contest to eight counts related to two girls. In pleading no contest, Stevenson did not admit to the crimes but acknowledged that he would likely be found guilty at trial.
“I am ready to pay for my mistakes,” Stevenson told Reinaker, “and I apologize to all the victims.”
Stevenson admitted to sexually assaulting girls as young as 14 years old after he began working as a youth care worker at the facility in June 2016. The assaults continued through June 2017, and he resigned June 28, 2017, after being confronted by facility staff.
In an interview last year after charges were filed, Drew Fredericks, Youth Intervention Center director, told LNP that the facility did background checks and had no concerns in hiring Stevenson based on his background.
LNP sought comment from the county commissioners after Wednesday’s sentencing. County solicitor Christina Hausner responded by email, saying the county believes justice has been done and hopes it assists with closure for the victims.
Hausner added that the Youth Intervention Center has been recognized as a “leader in its field” and has received a perfect score by state inspectors for four straight years.
“Unfortunately, even the most professional facility, with the most rigorous background checks, is not totally immune from individuals determined to commit crimes,” Hausner said.
At the guilty plea hearing, Reinaker noted that Stevenson, a divorced father of seven, had no criminal record. A star high-school wrestler in Pottstown, he served six years in the Army and completed college.
Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick told the judge the investigation found that Stevenson exposed himself to the youngest victim, molested her and gave her a razor blade, telling her to cut herself so she could get transferred to a mental health facility, where he could pick her up for sex.
Haverstick said he regularly made lewd comments to another victim. When she ran away from the facility, he met her outside and gave her $100. He communicated with her over Facebook, indicating he wanted to meet for sex.
Stevenson had improper contact with a third victim and regularly made lewd comments to her, Haverstick said.
Stevenson, however, denied improper conduct with two of the victims.
“I never even spoke to one of them,” he said.