Bikers provide support to girl at Westmoreland court hearing
A girl facing the man she claims sexually assaulted her had a few unlikely friends in a Westmoreland County courtroom Wednesday — four motorcyclists.
The group, wearing vests with Bikers Against Child Abuse patches, sat in district court with the girl and her family awaiting a preliminary hearing that never came. But still, having their support was a big deal, the girl’s mother said.
“It helped her, it did,” the mother said. “It helped her because she was nervous.”
Derek A. Ruth, 27, of Ruffsdale is accused of sex assault crimes after state police discovered he allegedly exchanged explicit photographs with the girl for several months last year.
During an interview with police, Ruth admitted to meeting the girl multiple times for sex although he knew she was 15 when the assaults began, officers reported. He waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday and remains jailed on $50,000 bail.
The girl’s mother got in touch with the Southwestern Pennsylvania chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse after the charges were filed July 24. The worldwide nonprofit receives referrals and works with children who have been targets of physical, sexual and emotion abuse.
Chapter members stay in close contact with the child and follow up with visits as time progresses.
The Westmoreland County-based chapter has been working locally for the last five years, and they take referrals in a 60-mile radius, said president Bob Crosby, also known as “Vulcan.” The show of support in court is a way to let children know they don’t need to be afraid.
“We empower them until they don’t need us anymore,” he said.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .