Press-Republican

Local News

January 23, 2014

Youth Advocate employee suspended

MALONE — Michelle A. Miller still has a job with the Franklin County Youth Advocate Program but isn’t actively working there.

“We have not made any personnel decisions,” said Martin J. D’Urso, inside counsel and chief operating officer of the Youth Advocate Program Inc. “But as a precaution, we have removed her from service.”

Miller, 26, is charged with two counts of third-degree rape and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual act, both felonies, in connection with two underage clients served by the agency.

Police said Tuesday that Miller had “engaged in sexual conduct” with two males younger than 17.

“I can tell you that we’re cooperating fully with the investigation,” said Candy Gadway, director of Youth Advocates’ Franklin County program, located at 246 West Main Street in Malone.

“We obviously can’t talk about the ongoing investigation,” D’Urso said.

TRAINED MENTOR

Youth Advocate, according to its website, is a nationally recognized, nonprofit that provides “community-based alternatives to out-of-home care through direct service, advocacy and policy change.”

Founded in 1975, it serves young people in 17 states, including services in Malone through the Franklin County office.

“And by and large, our programs are effective and without incident,” the CEO said from Harrison, Pa. “On rare occasions, issues arise that require investigation.”

Miller, he said, was hired in spring 2013; her title was advocate.

“Advocates are trained mentors who work with families, with kids in their communities, and they work on a variety of issues,” the CEO said.

“Typically, our clients are young people who have had some difficulties at school or home or in the community. Advocates try to bring order to what very often are chaotic lives.

“We try to train our folks to be both a positive role model and to provide some order and structure” for the clients.

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