By Mary Spicer
Explaining that Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system is based on the philosophy of “balanced and restorative justice,” Judge John Spataro of the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas on Tuesday placed Tyler Adams, 15, in Hermitage House Youth Services Inc.’s High Impact Program.
In late February, the Meadville teenager was ruled delinquent of aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment in Crawford County Juvenile Court for his role in the 3 a.m. New Year’s Day beating of a 34-year-old Meadville man near the CVS pharmacy at North and Liberty streets. During that hearing, Spataro also found there was insufficient evidence to adjudicate Adams delinquent on a charge of criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.
The second teen charged in the assault, 16-year-old Timothy Bolden, will be tried as an adult in the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas on felony aggravated assault and other charges.
Spataro prefaced Tuesday’s placement with an explanation that it is consistent with the notion of balanced and restorative justice to recognize that sometimes a young person will commit an act criminal in nature — and therefore, when such a time comes, the juvenile justice system places its focus on aiding and helping the juvenile.
Assistant District Attorney Craig Howe said that the Hermitage House program supports the prosecution’s goal to get Adams help — and back in school at the beginning of the next school year. “It would help him with some issues that have popped up during the last year,” Howe added.
“Tyler hit a bump in the road — and with help he can be a member of the community,” his mother told the judge.
“I don’t think he’s a violent kid and I don’t think he committed violence in this case, but he needs a lot of help in other areas,” his father added.
Adams responded “No” when asked if he had any comment for the court.
“Tyler’s not looking forward to placement,” his attorney, Ed Hatheway, said.
“Your task now is to recognize that this was a serious mistake,” Spataro told Adams. “It’s a learning process to learn how to not act impulsively and make a bad decision,” he continued. “The same concept applies to drugs, alcohol, grades, listening to people in authority and to show up on time. Everything has consequences.”
Spataro thanked the Juvenile Probation Department for putting a lot of thought into its recommendation for Adams.
“What will make us and the community and Mom and Dad happy is for you to be successful in life,” Spataro said. “This least-restrictive environment is designed to help you. You can go there with an attitude — but you’ll be hurting yourself. The people at Hermitage House will give you the tools to help you deal with anger and impulse and the lure of drugs and alcohol.”
While in the High Impact Program, plans call for Adams to participate in anger replacement therapy, an education program, drug and alcohol counseling “and such family counseling as may be recommended,” Spataro said. The HIP’s intensive intervention for youth is a 60-to-90-day residential program whose features include writing apology letters to victims and community service.
After his time at Hermitage House, Adams will be under the supervision of the county’s Juvenile Probation Department.
Spataro also noted that Adams, who had been released into the custody of his parents following his adjudication, will be expected to pay $250 fine for aggravated assault and $55 in other costs; restitution has not yet been determined.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.