A 3rd Circuit Court jury has convicted Layne Meacham, founder of the controversial Proctor Advocate program for troubled teens, of abusing a 16-year-old girl in his program last August.
The three-man, one-woman panel deliberated three hours Friday night before returning the verdict against Meacham, who faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor count.Judge Michael K. Burton did not set a sentencing date.
Meacham was charged in connection with an incident in which the girl, then 15, was forced to stand lock-kneed for 90 minutes during a therapy session while other teenagers called her names. The session ended when the girl vomited blood and had to be taken to a hospital.
Meacham, whose social worker's license was suspended amid the complaints, faces another misdemeanor count involving a 17-year-old girl who also says she was abused in the program when she was 16. Prosecutors said they would talk to that girl and her family before determining whether to proceed with another trial.
"I feel justice was served and I'm happy for my daughter because of all the stress and all the pain she's been through," said Marsha Hardman, the girl's mother. She said her daughter wanted to go through the trial "because she wanted to help other kids and she wanted the truth to be known."
Several Proctor Advocate students, who attended the trial to support Meacham, maintained his innocence afterward.
"I'm going to fight. I'm going to give everything I have to this program. It won't die," said one 18-year-old boy.