Junior Program Sexual Assault Prompts Civil Suit in Pennsylvania

The family of a junior firefighter in Pennsylvania who was sexually assaulted by the head of the junior program is suing the fire department and the officer. The Trucksville Volunteer Fire Department and Lieutenant Joshua James Ralston have been named as defendants in a suit brought by the victim and her mother. Ralston, who is now 21, was 19 at the time and the victim was 13.

Originally facing ten felony charges, Ralston pled guilty to two counts of statutory sexual assault, and in exchange eight counts were dismissed. In February Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas sentenced Ralston to 11 to 23 months to serve, with two years of probation to follow.

The suit alleges that despite the fact that the girl was too young for the junior program she was admitted and thereafter groomed by Ralston. He then began sending sexually explicit messages and they eventually had sexual encounters.

According to the Times Leader: “The suit alleges the fire department’s environment was a “boys’ club,” comprised of younger men who shared interest in sexual conquests of younger females.” The department is accused of failing to properly oversee the junior program and Ralston.

The suit was filed by firefighter-attorney Michael A. Lombardo III, of Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn. I have reached to the firm for a copy of the complaint and will post it here if/when they respond.

More on the story.

UPDATE: May 29, 2018 – A big THANK YOU to fellow firefighter-attorney Michael Lombardo for providing us the complaint. The identity of the victim and her family understandably remains a confidential matter.

JS v Trucksville Complaint

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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