By Courtney L. Saylor
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
A Mercer County judge on Monday closed to the media and public all matters related to a 15-year-old boy accused of making a bomb threat Jan. 2 at Sharon High School.
Because the boy intended to “admit to a violation,” Common Pleas Court Judge John C. Reed ordered the juvenile’s hearings closed after a previous court proceeding in the case was open.
The Sharon boy is charged with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and making terroristic threats and disorderly conduct. The first two charges are felonies.
Authorities said the teen wrote a note on a paper towel found in a boys’ bathroom saying there was en explosive device in a restroom with the words “ha ha ha.” About 1,000 students were evacuated from the school for about 10 minutes and a search of the building’s bathrooms yielded nothing suspicious.
Reed made the case private after a motion by the boy’s attorney, Public Defender Raymond H. Bogaty. Juvenile probation officer Josh Leskovac also agreed having the case in the public eye could be detrimental to the boy’s rehabilitation.
If it were open to anyone it could have a “chilling effect” on the boy’s testimony, Reed said.
Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Gilchrest did not take a position on the matter.
Reed said the boy’s prior lawyer, Lowell T. Williams, did not move to close a Jan. 4 detention hearing in the case. That was held before Judge Christopher J. St. John and The Herald attended and wrote an article about the teen being held in a juvenile detention center until his case was adjudicated.
In addition to the adjudication hearing Monday, Reed said all further court hearings in the case would also be closed to the public. It’s up to the judge in juvenile cases whether to keep such proceedings private.
It’s unclear if The Herald will be able to find out the resolution of the case and if the boy remains in Keystone Shelter Care, Hempfield Township, after Monday’s court action.
St. John had ordered the boy remain in placement due to the severity of the charges and because the boy was already on probation.