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Healthy Start driver charged in molestation

| Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004

A van driver for a program aimed at helping women and children surrendered to authorities Friday on charges of molesting an 11-year-old girl.

Jerry G. Horton, 56, of Oakview Drive, Edgewood, is charged with indecent assault, indecent exposure and corruption of minors. He is being held in the Allegheny County Jail on $50,000 bail after turning himself in at the office of Forest Hills District Justice Susan Evashavik.

Police said Horton, who in 1990 was sentenced to prison for endangering the welfare of children, exposed himself to and indecently assaulted the daughter of an acquaintance. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review does not identify victims in sexual-assault cases.

The incident occurred June 25 at his home, when Horton, wearing only a long T-shirt, lay down on a bed with the girl, kissing and touching her, according to court documents. He then warned her not to tell anyone, the documents said.

Horton is employed as a van driver at Healthy Start Inc., a nonprofit program under the direction of the Allegheny County Health Department. The program, based in Point Breeze, provides nutrition and health programs to mothers and children at locations throughout the county.

Cheryl Flint, director of the program, said Horton delivered mail between the program's different sites.

Flint said Horton, employed with the organization since January, worked strictly for the group's administrative division and "had no contact with our participants or our children." Along with making deliveries, Horton often assisted in maintenance duties, such as setting up chairs for conferences, she said.

Flint said a background check done before Horton was hired revealed the child-endangerment charges from "10 or 15 year ago."

"There was nothing to preclude him from being a van driver," she said.

Flint said Horton had never been in trouble at work and that organization representatives became aware of the current charges from news reports. She would not give Horton's salary.

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