Shuman inmate's Pittsburgh mother hires attorney

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The mother of a teenager whose alleged beating at the hands of a juvenile detention center guard sparked a state investigation says she's taking action herself.

Marilyn Young of Lawrenceville said Tuesday no one told her when her 16-year-old son, Taymar, was injured in an altercation with a Shuman Juvenile Detention Center worker. It wasn't until her son called her that she learned he had been slammed into a metal door frame, drawing blood.

The Jan. 4 incident, caught on closed-circuit video, led to the arrest of Shuman worker Ronald White and his subsequent firing. Police have charged the 33-year-old with simple assault and abusing his power.

Shuman officials waited four days to file a child abuse report, taking Mr. White's word that it was an accident.

"Regardless of what he did there or out in the streets, he still shouldn't be abused by an adult," Ms. Young said. "Nothing was done that needed to be done to take care of this child."

She's a mother of seven, and she admits her son isn't perfect. According to police records, Taymar was picked up in May on charges of robbing four people in Lawrenceville with another teenager. All charges were later withdrawn from adult court.

Taymar takes medication for mental health issues and is currently undergoing treatment, Ms. Young said. During his time at Shuman, she said, she tried to send up his medication but was rebuffed.

Soon after the altercation -- before she received a letter dated Jan. 8 from the state Department of Public Welfare -- her son called and told her about the incident.

He said he told a supervisor about the fight but hadn't received any help.

"They didn't take him to the hospital," she said. "You're looking at a child scared to come forth, and his mother had to do it for him."

State law requires facilities like Shuman to notify parents following "reportable" incidents, state DPW spokeswoman Donna Morgan said, but an injury that doesn't require hospitalization wouldn't qualify. Any child abuse -- which this incident was determined to be -- also must be reported to the state and parents.

She has since hired an attorney to look at legal options.

"I want this to blow up as big as possible," she said. "I don't think [Shuman] is a place that's helping these children. I think they're just collecting money from the state. They need to close it down."

DPW cited Shuman with two regulatory violations related to the incident. In a response filed with the state Friday, Shuman director William "Jack" Simmons said the facility waited four days to report the assault because supervisors originally thought it was an accident.

Mr. Simmons and deputy director Lynette Drawn-Williamson were given one-week unpaid suspensions last month.

The allegation comes amid a county inquiry into the facility, which workers say is rife with favoritism, bad accounting and inconsistent discipline.

County Manager William McKain, who released a critical report last month, has asked the county controller's office to audit the facility's payroll and charity bank account and the Common Pleas Court who oversees juvenile court plans to send a team to investigate conditions there.

In a statement sent after the meeting, Mr. McKain reiterated that methods used in the Shuman investigation were the same as were used in review of the public works department and a leadership change in the Office of Property Assessment.

"This is about our responsibility to provide a safe, clean and appropriate environment for the Shuman residents," he wrote.

neigh_city

Andrew McGill: amcgill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1497.


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