Prosecutor says investigators have identified other possible victims
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
A former Chester County foster parent and corrections officer waived his preliminary hearings Monday morning in two, separate cases in which he is accused of molesting a young girl in his care.
Following the bail agency’s recommendation, Magisterial District Judge Susann E. Welsh set bail at $150,000 cash in the second case against Leroy K. Mitchell, 60, of West Bradford Township, which was filed on Tuesday. After Mitchell’s first arrest on May 31, Magisterial District Judge John Bailey set bail at $500,000 cash.
Assistant District Attorney Deborah Ryan said her office considers Mitchell, who is facing two mandatory-minimum 10-year prison terms, a flight risk as well as a danger to society. “We have identified other possible victims,” she said, declining to elaborate after the proceeding.
Ryan urged that if Mitchell makes bail, he should be required to surrender his passport and be subject to electronic home-monitoring, conditions that Welsh imposed.
Assistant Public Defender David Miller, who represents Mitchell, said his client is not in a position to post bail at this time; however, Miller suggested that he might challenge the amount in Chester County Court at a later date. Miller declined comment after the hearing.
Welsh granted a defense request that Mitchell have an opportunity to speak with his wife, who attended the proceeding with three other supporters, before being returned to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Officials said he is being held there as a precautionary measure. Mitchell worked at Chester County Prison as a corrections officer for 22 years until the charges surfaced and he was immediately terminated, county officials said.
Mitchell faces multiple counts of aggravated indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, and related offenses in the two cases, according to court records. Investigators said Mitchell was a caregiver for the victims, not their foster parent.
According to the criminal complaints, the assaults against the girls – one who was 9 at the time and the other who was between the ages of 7 and 9 – occurred during a swimming outing at the Brandywine Creek and at Mitchell’s residence. During interviews with investigators, Mitchell admitted having repeated indecent contact with the girls, the complaints said.
Questions to county officials last week about when Mitchell served as a foster parent in the county and how many children were in his care have not yet been answered.
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan has said that Mitchell and his family have housed over 50 foster children over the last few decades and that he believes other children may have been victimized. Anyone with information is asked to call Trooper David Brodeur at (610) 486-6280 or Chester County Detective James Ciliberto at (610) 344-6866.
Welsh scheduled a formal arraignment date for Mitchell of June 27.