Former Ohio Social Worker Sentenced for Sexually Abusing 13-Year-Old Client
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A 24-year-old Ohio mental health counselor, Payton Harleigh Shires, has been sentenced to up to 4 years and 9 months in prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy she was hired to help Shires pleaded guilty to the following- four counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, one count of inducing panic with a firearm and one count of intimidating a witness or victim.

Former Ohio Social Worker Sentenced for Sexually Abusing 13-Year-Old Client
Payton Harleigh sentenced to up to 4 years and 9 months in prison | Image source: lawandcrime

The sentencing hearing took place in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and it was not easy for the Shires’ actions to receive that I will have to go through the victim. The boy’s mother was anxious to say sorry for letting Shires in their house, saying that the community had lost its initial trust in a system designed to help it work well due to the “devastating impact” of the abuse.

Although Judge Mark Serrott acknowledged the regret of Shires and obviously her remorse exists, he still emphasized Shires’ affront to confidence. He noted, “He was a child. He was trying to get the help he needed.” The judge also threw Shires’ plea back in the face of the victim himself by saying the victim was the one who had tried to use coercion or blackmail on her, and he reminded her that she was the adult and she was the trained professional and she had to make sure that she never put herself in that situation.

Jonny will be fortunate to apply for early release if he behaves throughout 18 months and undergoes compulsory counseling. If early parole is denied, then she shall as well be kept on supervised release for five years. Also, she will be a sex offender and she will have to register every 180 days for 25 years after the end of her sentence.

Payton Harleigh sentenced to up to 4 years and 9 months in prison
Payton Harleigh sentenced to up to 4 years and 9 months in prison

This incident stresses the importance of trust and responsibility in the mental health profession. Counselors and social workers stand in a position where abuse and responsibility are closely connected, thus any mistake can be totally devastating for both the victims and the families. It is crucial that these professionals cleave to their ethical standards and consider their clients, above everything else, in order to be able to fulfill their obligations.

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