PALMYRA, Pa. — A Central Pennsylvania attorney and former board volunteer with a local Boy Scouts of America organization has been accused of sexually assaulting two juvenile victims more than 25 years ago in Prince William County, Virginia.
Shawn Cory Gooden, 47, of Palmyra, is charged with two counts of indecent liberties, two counts of forcible sodomy, and five counts of aggravated sexual battery by authorities in Prince William County, who claim he sexually assaulted one victim who was between the ages of 9 and 13 and second victim between the ages of 8 and 12 over a three-year span between January 1997 and December 2000.
Gooden is currently being held in Lebanon County Prison after being taken into custody by North Londonderry Township Police on Sept. 5. He is awaiting extradition to face the charges against him, according to the Prince William County Police Department.
Police began investigating Gooden after the allegations were recently reported.
Gooden is a partner with the Thomas, Thomas & Hafer law firm in Harrisburg. His bio page with the firm says he specializes in workers compensation cases.
Gooden's LinkedIn profile says he has been with the firm for about a year. The profile also lists him as an adjunct professor at Widener University.
Ronald Gardner, Scout Executive and CEO of New Birth of Freedom Council, Boy Scouts of America told FOX43 Gooden has not been active in the organization since 2019. He served as a volunteer board member, Gardner said.
The New Birth of Freedom Council covers most of Central Pennsylvania, including Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Perry, and York counties.
Gardner issued a statement in response to Gooden's arrest, which appears below:
"The allegations against Shawn Gooden are disturbing and opposed to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) stands. He is a former volunteer Council board member and has not been active since 2019. His term formally ended in May of this year. We have no record of him being registered at the time of the allegations. He has been placed in our Volunteer Screening Database and will no longer be permitted to register as a volunteer in the Boy Scouts of America or participate in any capacity.
"It is our understanding at this time that the alleged behaviors do not involve Scouts, but we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of youth in our programs — it is our top priority.
"The BSA’s multilayered process of safeguards includes the following measures, all of which are designed to act as barriers to abuse:
- mandatory youth protection training for all volunteers and employees
- a leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times during Scouting activities and bans one-on-one situations where adults would have any interaction alone with children — either in person, online, or via phone or text
- a thorough screening process for adult leaders and staff including criminal background checks,
- a ban on the use of recording devices/cell phones near bathrooms and shower houses
- the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse to law enforcement.
"The BSA also offers a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1) and email contact address (email@example.com) for help reporting suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior."