Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf says she expects juvenile proceedings to be filed soon in connection with the July 3 arson fire at the closed Lebanon Catholic School building.

The county’s chief prosecutor told LebTown on Nov. 21 that the Lebanon Police Department “is charging one juvenile. They had not yet done so as of last Friday but stated it was imminent.”

Investigators quickly suspected that the early morning fire was intentionally set, and focused on a number of break-ins that had occurred in the preceding months.

Their suspicions were confirmed by undated video posted on social media showing unidentified persons lighting a fire in the school’s gymnasium.

Read More: Police arson investigation focuses on video of fire in Lebanon Catholic gym

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg closed the school at 1400 Chestnut St. in April 2020 due to declining enrollment. It sold the building and the 13.9 acres it sits on to a private developer this past June.

The empty building and surrounding property had deteriorated in the two years between the school’s closing and the sale, leading to complaints that the diocese was ignoring maintenance and not securing the property.

Pennsylvania law requires that most persons under 18 who are suspected of committing a crime enter the juvenile justice system rather than the adult criminal system.

Once a formal judgment or decision is made in a juvenile case, a “disposition hearing” is held. During the disposition hearing, the judge can order a “deferred adjudication,” which allows for the charges to eventually be dismissed, fines and community service, probation, or placement in a juvenile facility.

The identities of juvenile offenders are not publicly disclosed in most cases.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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