Charges multiply against former foster parent

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D.A. calls defendant, a former URA coach, ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

A 1995 photo of Leroy K. Mitchell may help identify other potential child sex-abuse victims, District Attorney Tom Hogan said.

A 1995 photo of Leroy K. Mitchell may help identify other potential child sex-abuse victims, District Attorney Tom Hogan said.

Five additional child victims have surfaced in the sexual-abuse case against a former coach, foster parent, and corrections officer, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said Wednesday.

Leroy K. Mitchell, 60, a former lieutenant at the Chester County Prison, was charged in June with sexually abusing two girls, ages 7 and 9, in his care.  A second criminal complaint adds five victims, detailing a course of criminal conduct over 40 years, Hogan said.

Mitchell and his wife, who have lived in Newlin and West Bradford Townships, were foster parents to over 50 children throughout the years, three of whom have been identified as victims, Hogan said.  Mitchell also served as a girls’ softball coach for the Unionville Recreation Association (URA).

Leroy K. Mitchell, 60, is accused of sexually assaulting

Leroy K. Mitchell, 60, is accused of sexually assaulting seven children in his care, according to court records.

“For the last 40 years, the defendant built his life around getting access to children in order to sexually abuse them,” Hogan said.  “His job, his family life, and his coaching activities were part of an act to lure children to him.  The defendant was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

According to the second criminal complaint, the sexual abuse of the first victim dates back to 1966, when the victim was 5 years old and the defendant was in his teens. The newly identified victims include both males and females, ranging in age from age 3 to 10, the complaint said. After the abuse occurred, Mitchell bestowed “rewards” on the victims, ranging from lollipops and milkshakes to trips to McDonald’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s, the complaint said.

Hogan said he released a photograph of Mitchell when he was 42 to aid other potential past victims in identifying him. “This is a rapidly expanding investigation.  After the media reported the initial abuse charges, multiple other victims have come forward,” Hogan said.  “With abuse occurring over decades and with the defendant’s role as both a foster parent and coach, we are concerned that there are even more victims.  We will not stop investigating until every victim has a chance to be heard and seek justice.”

Hogan said the case is being investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police and  Chester County Detectives; Assistant District Attorney Deb Ryan from the District Attorney’s Child Abuse Unit has been assigned as prosecutor. Anyone with information should call Trooper David Brodeur at (610) 486-6280 or Chester County Detective James Ciliberto at (610) 344-6866.

Mitchell, who is represented by Assistant Public Defender David Miller, worked at Chester County Prison as a corrections officer for 22 years until the charges surfaced and he was immediately terminated, county officials said. Miller declined to comment.

According to county records, Mitchell was a foster parent with Chester County from 1989 to 1997.  He is being held at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility after failing to post $650,000 cash bail on the first complaint. A preliminary hearing on the second complaint has not been scheduled yet, according to court records.

 

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