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Lackawanna County Commissioners looking into recent charges against employees

Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton
eyecrave productions/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton

Lackawanna County Commissioners say they are conducting an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding five county employees who were charged with child neglect.

During a meeting on Thursday, July 6, Commissioner Debi Domenick said the county is reviewing thousands of emails and documents from the Office of Youth and Family Services (OYFS). Their investigation also includes looking at the office's staffing levels.

"There are other facts and circumstances in about these cases that the public is not yet aware," she said.

On June 27, the employees from the county’s child protection agency were charged with endangering the welfare of children and failure to report or refer cases of suspected child abuse. They are Randy Ramik, 59, of Clarks Green; Bryan Scott Walker, 51, of Eynon; Erik Krauser, 45, of Dickson City; and Sadie O’Day, 34, and Amy Helcoski, 50, both of Scranton.

The charges are the result of an over one-year-long investigation by the Lackawanna County District Attorney's office into reports of various levels of abuse to children under the caseworkers’ care. The children — now between the ages of 2 and 13 — are from three different families who have been involved with the office for more than 10 years.

"We are doing a deep dive specifically into the three cases," said Domenick. "We are really looking at a timeline of what occurred from a very specific factual basis.”

Domenick said a plan of action will take time and it will amend or enhance policies and procedures already in place.

“We want to make sure that the public is aware of what was in place before and what is being changed," she said.

A reporter from the Times-Tribune newspaper asked commissioners if they have faith in William Browning, head of the county’s department of Health and Human Services.

“Up until this point, we have had zero reason to question the ability of Bill Browning," said Domenick.

Commissioner Chris Chermak added they are working tireless with Browning.

"If we feel that there is something that rises to the level of questioning that or changing that opinion, we will address it then," said Domenick.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.
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