Camp Shoresh sent out a message to parents, JCW has some important questions

Here is an email Camp Shoresh sent out to parents, below that you will see a number of important questions JCW has for ShoreshScreenshot 2016-03-22 13.22.01

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Here is JCW’s response to the special message from Shoresh:


Camp Shoresh of Baltimore recently sent out a “special message” regarding reports of child sexual abuse this past summer to all those affiliated with the camp. As an open discussion, JCW wishes to better understand the letter and some of the issues raised within it. The following is a list of questions JCW has for Shoresh’s directors:


  • Did the incident occur during camp or after camp had ended? It says later in the letter that the conduct was between a former Shoresh employee and a camper. This implies the situation occurred during camp which would be June or July of 2015.
  • Was he a former employee at the time of the conduct?
  • What sort of improper conduct was charged?  Child Protective Services handles situations as serious as child sex and/or physical abuse.
  • If there was an active investigation of this sort, why were parents not informed immediately to help the investigators locate other potential victims and/or witnesses?
  • How long did it actually take to report the abuse? One business day could be as long as 72 hours. Mandatory reporting time limit in Maryland is 48 hours (COMAR
  • Given that Shoresh is a community organization, did Shoresh reach out to others in the community to make them aware of the investigation and ensure other children were safe during the investigation?
  • Did Shoresh reach out to others in the community to make them aware of the investigation in general? While Shoresh was unable to discuss the details of the investigation as per the authorities, it is permissible to inform parents that there is an ongoing investigation.
  • Can you elaborate on what “unsubstantiated” means to you?
    • The legal meaning of “unsubstantiated” differs from the plain English definition Shoresh implies. The legal meaning is that the charges may well be true but cannot be proven. A finding of “unsubstantiated” means the accused abuser stays in a CPS database for the next 5 years.
      • An investigation conducted by CPS can result in three findings that the abuse is either:
        • Indicated, Unsubstantiated, or Ruled Out.
          • Indicated: A finding that there is credible evidence that has not been satisfactorily refuted, that abuse, neglect or sexual abuse did occur.
          • Unsubstantiated: A finding that there is an insufficient amount of evidence to support finding of either indicated or ruled out.
          • Ruled Out: a finding that abuse, neglect or sexual abuse did not occur.
        • Unsubstantiated is the result of the CPS proceeding, therefore it is unclear what “CPS will not be moving forward with any proceedings” means. At the bottom of


the letter, it states, “Now that the legal proceedings against the former Shoresh employee have concluded,” but here it states there will be no legal proceedings.

  • What were the initial findings 60 days after the report? The initial CPS findings should have been reached within 60 days of the initial report in August. COMAR (A)(3)(4)). It is unclear why it would take from August until February for CPS to reveal its findings when they are supposed to have findings within 60 days as per Maryland law.
  • Were there findings at the conclusion of the CPS investigation that Shoresh did not report? If so, why was a letter not sent out to parents after the CPS investigation reached its final conclusion and was closed?
  • Your letter implies that the employee has given up his right to appeal the CPS findings in exchange for being kept in the CPS files as an unsubstantiated abuser for the next 5 years. Is this correct?
    • This arrangement looks an awful lot like a plea bargain. Is this the entirety of the agreement between the employee and CPS?
  • JCW applauds Shoresh having policies and procedures regarding abuse when so many institutions still do not. Could you point to documents or policies that existed prior to August of 2015 that show how it handles allegations of abuse, and what measures are taken at camp to ensure an adult is never alone with a child?


JCW praises Shoresh’s transparency and in that light would greatly appreciate answers to these questions.


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