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Charges filed against teenage girls for assault from Ashler Manor
April 4, 2018

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PENNSDALE - Charges have been filed against four teenage girls, ranging in ages 14 to 18, for assaulting three people at the Ashler Manor group home and causing $2,000 damage at the facility on Ashler Manor Drive following a late-night disturbance on March 6, state police said.

The identities of the four teens were not released, and police did not confirm if the victims were staff members.

Each of the three victims were struck "multiple times," police said. The group of teens then damaged a camera surveillance system, a partition and a section of ceiling.

All four face charges, but police did not say what charges were filed.

During a meeting in Pennsdale, the juvenile girls who escape Ashler Manor present a fearful problem, several Muncy Township residents told the Muncy Township supervisors at their meeting last Wednesday night.

Several properties in the township have been affected by the girls crossing them after they leave the facility on Ashler Manor Drive. If the police become involved, the girls try to hide in outbuildings to escape discovery, according to township Police Cpl. Brian Bingaman.

"This is not a new problem, but it's getting worse," said board chair and Supervisor Tom Schaech.

Residents also are concerned that there is no means of notifying residents when a girl does escape.

Bingaman told the crowd there are three types of clients at the facility, which is owned and operated by Families United Network Inc. The facility houses individuals who have been placed there as delinquents through a county's juvenile probation program or through children and youth services. They can be victims of abuse or have drug dependency issues, either theirs or their parents'. Some girls are placed at the facility to get them away from where they came from.

Depending on their situation, the girls may receive counseling whereas others need the treatment of a physician and a psychologist.

The girls are not locked in and there is no fence around the facility to keep them from leaving.

According to Bingaman, on average, 45 girls are housed at Ashler. In addition, Families United runs a day care and is in the process of building a senior care facility at the site.

The girls' trespassing on local properties is only one of the issues addressed at the meeting. Because Ashler Manor is a non-profit agency, it does not pay taxes to the township, but still benefits from the emergency services provided by the township and neighboring municipalities.

Schaech told the approximately 35 people in attendance that from Jan. 15 to Feb. 11, 11 incidents were reported at the facility.

And, he noted, in the past there have been occasions when emergency providers have been injured responding to calls at Ashler.

One meeting attendee who said she had worked in the prison system said she felt more afraid when she responded with the ambulance on a call to Ashler.

"We're going to do everything within our power, but first we're going to do our homework," Schaech said.

He said the board wants to document how much it costs to offer emergency services and how it not only affects the township but also the budgets of local municipalities who are called in to assist.

He added that the township wants to send a certified letter to every member of the board of directors of Ashler Manor, citing the township's concerns.

He assured the residents that the board will do everything it can to deal with the situation.

"The board is committed to ensure the safety and to provide some type of notification for citizens," he said.

Representatives from Ashler had been invited to the meeting to address the residents' concerns but did not attend.

In other business, the board approved two subdivisions in the township. One at the Wolf Run Veterinary Clinic and the other for Tule LP Ellis Artley Road.

A contract with D.A.D's Landscaping, Jersey Shore, for weed control was approved by the board at a cost of $500 a year.

The next meeting of the Muncy Township board will be at 7:30 p.m. April 11 at the Township Building, 1922 Pond Road.

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