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mercoledì 24 maggio 2017
Woman accused of sex crimes against foster child
GREENSBURG, Pa. - Police said employees at a local school and the Greene County Children and Youth Services office knew about accusations of inappropriate behavior by a foster mom, but continued to place children in her care.
Joelle M. Barozzini, 46, of Greensburg, is accused of having sexual contact with a foster child from Greene County in her care.
Barozzini turned herself in on Wednesday afternoon. She is charged with rape-forcible compulsion, institutional sexual assault, corruption of minors and endangering welfare of children. The investigation spans three counties.
Police said Barozzini is employed at Pressley Ridge, a nonprofit organization that works with children, adults and families. She was a foster parent for the nonprofit in Uniontown, and reportedly helped teach others how to be foster parents.
According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, police said the school knew about an allegation related to Barozzini, placed kids in her care and never contacted officials.
Detectives tell Channel 11 they are going to meet with prosecutors in the coming days to see if any further action will be taken.
The victim was 16 years old when the initial incident reportedly happened in 2009 at Barozzini's Greensburg home. The sexual abuse continued for years, sometimes while Barozzini's husband was home, investigators said.
Police said Barozzini would text the boy, “Hurry home so I can text you.” The boy told police that was code for sex.
During their investigation, police conducted multiple interviews. When members of the boy’s family were interviewed, they told detectives that Barozzini often bought the victim expensive gifts. Detectives also spoke with other children Barozzini fostered, and Children and Youth Services case workers from Greene County, because that's where the victim is from.
Investigators said one case worker reported her suspicions of an inappropriate relationship to a supervisor at Pressley Ridge, but the case worker was reprimanded for "gossip," required to attend ethics training and removed from the case. Police interviewed that supervisor, and said the allegation was never reported to Child Line or law enforcement officials.
Pressley Ridge told Channel 11 Barozzini was immediately placed on leave for months, pending a resolution of the investigation. A representative went on to say the safety and well-being of the children is their highest priority.
Greene County CYS told Channel 11 in a statement: "The Agency is aware of the investigation and we are cooperating fully with law enforcement. I cannot comment any further due to the on-going investigation."
Barozzini's attorney did not comment on the case, but told Channel 11 this has been hanging over his client's head since she first learned of the investigation in November.
Police say had a state trooper not made a Child Line report last November, law enforcement would've never known about the allegations.
Barozzini was ordered to surrender her passport and was released on $50,000 unsecured bond.