A town gone bad
York County has long history
of harming kids
Time and again, corrupt court and county officials have intervened to protect Children and Youth Services -- and other insiders -- from scrutiny, and blame, while kids continue to be hurt
'A worker at York County Children and Services at the time told us that the office was in continual disarray, with files and other documents strewn about the office. County officials were fearful that the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare would revoke its license if the agency was held responsible for its negligence'
Nathaniel Craver and sister
March 7, 2010 -- A county in central Pennsylvania where a 7-year-old Russian boy was allegedly beaten to death by his adoptive parents in August 2009 has a long history of negligence involving its Children and Youth Services.
And it's not the first time a Russian national has been involved in York County, PA, negligence.
Nathaniel Craver died on August 25, 2009, with more than 80 wounds to his body, and suffering from malnutrition. York County Children and Youth Services briefly removed the child and his twin sister from the home of their parents two years earlier.
The agency soon returned the twins to their parents, Nanette and Michael Craver. The Cravers then took the children out of public school. Family members and neighbors continued to notice signs of abuse or neglect involving Nathaniel. Children and Youth Services took no action to protect the child. The Cravers have now been charged with murder.
York County Children and Youth Services has a long history of negligence, spanning several decades, leading to the death and injury of children. Time and again, corrupt court and county officials have intervened to protect the agency -- and other insiders -- from scrutiny, and blame.
In 1982, 5-year-old Aleta Bailey, of Dover, died of multiple brain hemorrhages after being raped, beaten and abused by her mother's boyfriend, Larry Hake.
Aleta Bailey was supposedly under protection of York County Children and Youth Services. Her caseworker was Beverly Mackereth, who would go on to become a prominent York County Republican.
Mackereth's official biography on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives website reads that Mackereth, "became a Supervisor at York County Children and Youth Services overseeing intake investigations of alleged child abuse and neglect from 1980 to 1987."
In fact, Mackereth was the caseworker directly responsibile for Aleta Bailey in 1982. Court findings in a 1983 federal lawsuit brought on behalf of Aleta Bailey's estate against York County reads, in part:
The facts, as set forth in the complaint, are that five-year-old Aleta lived with her mother, Jo Ellen Bailey Naylor, and Larry Hake, Naylor's "paramour and cohabitant". On January 3, 1982 Carol Anne Stough and Theresa Tobling, relatives of Aleta, found severe bruises and other evidence of abuse on the child's body. On January 11, Tobling discovered additional bruises and telephoned the Child Hotline. On the same day another relative notified the police of the same information.
The next day, Beverly Mackerath, a YCCYS (York County Children and Youth Services) employee, took Aleta to York Hospital where the examining physician advised Mackerath that Hake's actions in striking Aleta were excessive, that he should not have access to the child, and that she should be taken from her mother if necessary to deny Hake access to her. That same day, Aleta was released from the hospital and placed with Carol Adams, her mother's aunt. Mackerath told Naylor that she had twenty-four hours to make arrangements for Hake to move from her home and that after arrangements were made to deny Hake access to Aleta, she would be returned to Naylor's custody and control.
The next night, YCCYS returned Aleta to her mother's custody. The complaint alleges that YCCYS undertook no independent investigation to determine the whereabouts of Aleta, Naylor, and Hake, and that they lived together both on a farm and in Naylor's home within the county. A month later Aleta died from physical injuries inflicted on her by Hake and her mother.
Mackereth was elected to the state General Assembly in 2000, where she held a seat until 2008.
Also in 2008, Mackereth's campaign treasurer, Susan Voyzey, was implicated in a courthouse electioneering scheme in a federal lawsuit brought by chief county detective Rebecca Downing. State Attorney General Tom Corbett, himself a current GOP candidate for governor, refused to investigate the allegations.
County GOP officials then appointed Mackereth as Executive Director of York County Human Services -- in charge of county Children and Youth Services. Mackereth was in charge of the agency when Nathaniel Craver died last August.
After Aleta Bailey's death, York County Children and Youth Services claimed that state law prohibited the agency from informing police of potential child abuse. The law supposedly was changed.
Hanging up the phone: Michael Stankewicz arrested at elementary school slashing while negligent county Children and Youth Services was protected
On February 2, 2001, a severely mentally ill man named Michael Stankewicz broke into the North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School in York County wielding a machete. He injured two teachers and 11 children.
Leading up to the attack, Stankewicz repeatedly made threatening phone calls to York County Children and Youth Services, and other county offices. Children and Youth Services workers ignored Stankewicz's threatening calls and hung up on him, enabling the attack.
Stankewicz had been recently released from a mental hospital, and was upset that his "mail order" Russian bride had left him.
Though Stankewicz was a known schizophrenic, county officials tried Stankewicz criminally. York County Common Pleas Judge Sheryl Dorney sentenced Stankewicz to 132 to 264 years in prison.
York County Children and Youth Services was not held accountable for its negligence.
A worker at York County Children and Services at the time told us that the office was in continual disarray, with files and other documents strewn about the office. County officials were fearful that the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare would revoke its license if the agency was held responsible for its negligence.
York County court officials have long played fast and loose with the safety of children to protect insiders. In 1999, York County Common Pleas Judge Richard Renn awarded custody of 10-year-old Ariel Keisling to her unmedicated bi-polar mother, who repeatedly was hospitalized for threatening to kill the child.
Ariel Keisling's maternal grandmother, Marilyn McHenry, was at the time a caseworker at Dauphin County Children and Youth Services. A court expert with close business ties to Judge Renn was involved in both the Keisling and Stankewicz cases.
Judges Renn, Dorney, and York County are currently defendants in a federal lawsuit brought by yardbird.com writer and editor Bill Keisling. The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court has asked the federal court to grant immunity to Renn and the other judicial defendants.
York County, meanwhile, continues to protect a courthouse security contractor with known ties to the paid sex trade. Chief Downing's lawsuit also alleged that courthouse employees were using state police supplied computers to view child pornogrpahy.
Keisling repeatedly suffered retaliation by Renn and others in York County for his ongoing reporting of these cases. The lawsuit states that Keisling attempting to report Renn and Dorney's unlawful behavior at "every opportunity," but that officials refused to act.