Former Westmont Hilltop music teacher Shawn Miller was arrested this week for allegedly raping a student in 2015.
The allegation was brought forward a few months ago by the victim herself, who was just nine years old at the time.
“This is a brave, brave child. Much braver than me. I waited until I was an adult. She’s my hero, whomever she is.”
That’s what Upper Yoder Township native Shaun Dougherty told us, who is a sexual assault survivor himself.
Dougherty is the president of SNAP, the largest organization in the world, for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
“I know what she’s going through right now. I know exactly what she’s going through right now. She’s a hero,”
Dougherty ran for State Senate in 2020, advocating for legislation to protect kids.
He said House Bill 951 has received overwhelming bipartisan support, but that the Senate Majority Leader just needs to make the final call.
“Where are the adults in this community that are going to fight for this hero? That are going to stand up for this hero? This child? That’s what this community needs. It needs bravery from the adults in the region to finally put an end to this stuff,”
While Dougherty focuses on prevention laws, if something has happened, legal services are an option after calling law enforcement.
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We contacted Richard Serbin, an attorney based in Altoona, who frequently works on child sex abuse cases.
“At the earliest opportunity, contact someone that is a specialist in this area. The local attorney that does divorces or real estate transactions that is unfamiliar with this area of the law is not the right person to contact. You need to get someone who is knowledgeable about what steps to take in representing the child,”
Upper Yoder Township police say that more alleged victims have come forward since the story broke.
Dougherty said it’s time to focus on prevention not fixing what has already been done.
“If I were your viewers, and I had a child in this region, I would call senator Kim Ward’s office and Senator Langerholc’s office. I would implore them to run House Bill 951. This is not the only guy we have in the region. I can assure you of that,”