Stikkordarkiv: #PennsylvaniaUSA

2009: Foreign-exchange coordinator arrested

The Times Tribune | By Joe McDonald, (staff writer) | Published: July 24, 2009

A Scranton woman who allegedly placed foreign-exchange students in area homes so deplorable that prosecutors called it a crime was arrested Thursday after turning herself in to authorities.

Edna Mary Burgette, 69, of 810 Myrtle St., was charged with five counts of endangering the welfare of children after she showed up at the Lackawanna County district attorney’s office. Detectives had been searching for her since Wednesday but were unable to find her, District Attorney Andy Jarbola said.

«We knew where she was staying,» Mr. Jarbola said. «She wasn’t on the run.»

Ms. Burgette was released on $25,000 unsecured bail at her arraignment before Magisterial District Judge Sean P. McGraw in Carbondale. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Her arrest does not mean investigators have ended their inquiry into the foreign-exchange student scandal centered in Scranton, Mr. Jarbola said.

«The investigation is continuing,» he said. «It’s continuing before the grand jury.»

The grand jury is scheduled to reconvene next week, he said. Last week, Mr. Jarbola said his office was securing records and other information from Aspect Foundation, the agency by which Ms. Burgette was employed.

The charges against Ms. Burgette revolve around five foreign-exchange students who were placed in area homes between August and May by Ms. Burgette, the former area coordinator for San Francisco-based Aspect Foundation. She was fired after the organization learned of the allegations.

The students told investigators they lived in filthy homes, some of which were later condemned. Several said they were living with ex-convicts and drug dealers. At least one student required medical attention for lack of adequate food and drink. All said Ms. Burgette ignored their complaints, even though she was paid by Aspect to place and check up on the students.

According to court papers, a girl from Norway said she was placed in a home filled with dog feces and cat urine on Dickson Avenue, and a boy from Colombia said he was exposed to similar unsanitary conditions at 935 Madison Ave., where he lived with people who had been released from prison and liked to smoke marijuana.

A student from Nigeria who stayed at Jermyn Apartments and at 935 Madison Ave. also said her living conditions included animal feces and life with ex-convicts, as well as very little food.

Two other students, one from Tanzania who lived at a home on Quincy Avenue, the other from Vietnam who also lived on Quincy Avenue, said they were not given enough food.

Contact the writer: jmcdonald@timesshamrock.com


Saksforløp

Vanlige problemer: Bytte familie, kaos, lite mat, ingen hjelp, rettssak

Publisert 16.07.09 – 10:05, endret 16.07.09 – 21:39 (VG NETT) Av Samaria Iqbal

(VG Nett) Den norske jenta Anne og andre utvekslingselever i  Scranton i Pennsylvania, bodde i utrygge hjem, ble neglisjert og var underernærte.

Carlos Villareal (midten) en av utvekslingsstudentene landet i sitt hjemland Colombia søndag. Her poserer han med sine foreldre, lykkelig over å være tilbake. Foto: AP
Carlos Villareal (midten) en av utvekslingsstudentene landet i sitt hjemland Colombia søndag. Her poserer han med sine foreldre, lykkelig over å være tilbake. Foto: AP

Utvekslingselevene som dro til Scranton i deltstaten Pennsylvania skulle få oppleve gledene ved den amerikanske kulturen, samt få  mulighetene til å studere på high school.

I stedet ble oppholdet et mareritt med forsømmelse, underernæring  og manglende oppfølging fra vertsfamiliene, melder CNN. Studentene er nå alle tilbake i sine opprinnelsesland, hvor de forteller venner og bekjente om sine opplevelser.

Den norske jenta Anne, som ikke vil oppgi sitt etternavn, prøvde  forgjeves å kontakte amerikanske myndigheter for å fortelle at de levde under kritikkverdige forhold. Hun fikk ingen respons fra  myndighetene, og henvendte seg deretter til organisasjonen som var ansvarlig for utvekslingselevene.

Ungdommene skal ha blitt neglisjert av sine vertsfamilier, og skal ha vært underernærte. Underernæringen skal ha ført til at flere  studenter skal ha havnet på sykehus.

I tillegg skal den ene studenten ha levd under samme tak som en narkotikadømt kriminell. En annen stundent besvimte under en gymtime på skolen grunnet underernæringen.

Sendte bilder av huset
Anne sendte også bilder av innsiden av huset som hun bodde i. Rektoren på skolen til Anne lot henne bo hos ham for resten av skoleperioden. De andre studentene var ikke like heldige som henne. De bodde nesten i ett helt år i utrygge hjem. Det lokale  barnevernet fikk tips om saken en måned før skoleslutt.

Statsadvokat Andrew Jarbola, sier til CNN at han ser meget  alvorlig på saken.

  • Ungdommene fikk ikke ordentlig mat, hygiene og den slags ting. Jeg vet også at en av ungdommene ble plassert i huset til en dømt  kriminell. Han har blitt dømt for salg av narkotika og andre  narkotikaforbrytelser. Dette er meget alvorlig, sier Jarbola.

Nekter for skyld
Vertsfamiliene benekter at de har gjort noe galt, men beretningene  til studentene forteller en litt annen historie.

  • De fikk ikke mat. En av studentene hadde opplevd at en vertsfamilie hadde teip på maten i kjøleskapet med påskriften – Ikke rør, dette er bare for vertsfamilien. De ble jo neglisjert, sier statsadvokat Jarbola.

Myndighetene krever handling
Amerikanske myndigheter krever nå at det gjøres noe overfor de ansvarlige.

  • Dette er et utvekslingsprogram som er veldig viktig for oss. Vi snakker om 15-18 år gamle ungdommer som blir introdusert for USA. Vi erkjenner at i dette tilfellet og i andre tilfeller rundt om i landet, har vi feilet i å oppnå våre mål, sier en talsmann for det amerikanske innenriksdepartementet til CNN.

Det er den San Francisco- baserte organisasjonen Aspect som sponset alle de 12 studentene i Scranton. De mottok i 2008 en million dollar i offentlig støtte.

Organisasjonen er nå under etterforskning.


Saksforløp

2010: US Department of State uttalelse om saken i Scranton, Pennsylvania

U.S. Department of State

The health, safety and welfare of the 30,000 high school students who participate each year in high school exchange programs, regulated by the Department of State, are among the Department’s highest priorities. These exchanges are important opportunities for young people from other countries to learn about and experience the United States, and we do our utmost to make them positive and rewarding experiences.

We are deeply troubled by any reports of incidents or allegations. They are investigated completely and transparently by the appropriate officials.

There are regulations in place to govern these programs. They can be found at http://exchanges.state.gov/jexchanges, under resources 22 CFR 62.25. The Department expects all private sector sponsors to adhere to these regulations, especially ensuring that participants are safely situated and host families are properly vetted.

When we learn about a specific situation, we immediately contact the sponsoring organization involved and ask them to investigate. We gather full information, and act swiftly and appropriately.

The sponsor must provide a report to the Department on the situation along with copies of documentation available to them on the participant’s program, including copies of the student application, the host family application form, local coordinator notes, and copies of the criminal background check. The Department then determines whether all regulatory requirements have been followed, including whether an incident was reported to local law enforcement.

  • The Department has completed its review of two recent cases – one in Scranton, PA and one in Fort Lewis, WA – and has determined that regulatory violations took place and is taking appropriate action to hold the private sector sponsoring organization accountable.

MEDIADEKNING SAKEN


POLITICAL PRESSURE


USA: DofS Regulations: Selection of Host Families

USA: DofS Regulations: Program sponsor eligibility

USA: DofS Regulations: Exchange Student Obligations and Rights