Accused's access to kids rattles parents
In his free time, 27-year-old Matthew Lewis volunteered as a Boy Scout leader, and it was that role that led to criminal charges last week that he had improper contact with two boys; however, his day job as a computer technician for the Great Valley School District has generated just as much controversy.
In his free time, 27-year-old Matthew C. Lewis volunteered as a Boy Scout leader, and it was that role that led to criminal charges last week that he had improper contact with two boys. However, his day job as a computer technician for the Great Valley School District has generated just as much controversy.
At Monday night's school board meeting, parents had numerous questions about why Lewis had access to elementary-school students this fall when the school was notified of the boys' accusations in August. The district placed Lewis, a Malvern resident who surrendered to police Monday, on paid administrative leave on Friday. The criminal complaint states that Lewis had indecent contact with two 11- to 12-year-old Boy Scouts in his care in 2006 and 2007.
The investigation began in August after the two boys realized they had been victims of inappropriate contact by Lewis at the Horseshoe Scout Reservation in West Nottingham Township, police said. The boys told their scout leader, who informed the camp supervisors, who notified the Boy Scout Council in West Chester, according to police. The Council reported the allegations to Children Youth and Family Services, who then contacted state police at the Avondale barracks.
Tom Dintaman, the assistant executive for the Chester County Council of Boy Scouts, said last week that Lewis was dismissed as soon as the allegations surfaced and that the notifications occurred so promptly that state police were at the camp within hours of the initial contact. He said Lewis was terminated from the Boy Scouts the same day. Lewis had served as a volunteer leader in a variety of capacities, including at Camp Horseshoe, since he graduated from Scouting at 18, Dintaman said.
Lewis has worked as a school computer technician since July 2008, and parents are displeased that the district did not block his access to children. Jennifer Blake, community relations coordinator for the district, said those concerns were heard. She said a meeting has been scheduled Thursday at 7 p.m. at General Wayne Elementary School. "Our goal for that meeting is to have a conversation; one that I believe is important," said an email from Superintendent Alan J. Lonoconus. "While legal obligations do limit some of the information we can share, I hope to answer some of the questions you've raised." The email apologized for the meeting's short notice but said the superintendent "heard the urgency you've expressed and would like to resolve what we can in a timely manner."
Blake said the school has also conducted an internal probe, checking Lewis' computer twice - first after the allegations surfaced and then when the charges were filed - to ensure that no inappropriate material had been accessed.