A 23-year-old instructor in the St. Mary's County Young Marines was charged last week with sexual child abuse of a 15-year-old Lexington Park girl who participated in the program's overnight camping trips.
Shane Allen Shaw, a Marine who was scheduled to be honorably discharged Friday, allegedly pushed the girl down during "march and capture" activities at Camp Merryelande on St. George's Island in May, according to St. Mary's County District Court documents. He got on top of her and began touching her and asking her to have sex with him, the documents stated, and the girl refused.
On other occasions, at Camp Merryelande and at Chancellor's Run Regional Park in St. Mary's County, Shaw repeatedly asked the girl to have sex with him, kissed and touched her and warned her not to tell other instructors, according to court documents. The Washington Post generally does not identify those alleged to be victims of sexual abuse or misconduct.
Shaw allegedly harassed at least one other female program participant, and an investigation by the state police in St. Mary's is ongoing, according to court documents. Shaw, believed to be from Missouri but now living in Lexington Park, was released on $10,000 bond after his arrest on Aug. 6. A preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday.
The Young Marines is a youth program designed to instill moral, mental and physical strength in children ages 8 to 17, according to the organization's Internet home page. Mike Kessler, the program's national executive director, said he heard about the sexual abuse charge and believes local program organizers "did a good job" in immediately firing Shaw and notifying local authorities of the incident.
Many volunteers, he said, are former Marines who submit a biography and are judged on their record in the Marine Corps. Kessler said Shaw's four-year stint in the Marines was flawless and that he was scheduled for an honorable discharge this month. It is unclear whether his arrest will affect his discharge status. Shaw had been on terminal leave from the military since July 2.
"You would look at [Shaw's] bio and say he appeared to be a very credible individual," Kessler said.
He said the incident doesn't represent the overall experience of the 9,000 children from 32 states who participate in the Young Marines.
The mother of the girl involved in this case agreed. "I don't hold the Young Marines program responsible for what happened because this person took the trust that was given him and misused it," said the girl's mother, who has two other children, ages 11 and 12, in the program. "[My daughter] has gotten a lot more responsible. It helps kids who really need help."
Kessler said this is the only allegation of sexual abuse he can recall in the program, which started admitting girls in 1975. The Young Marines came under scrutiny earlier this month after African American children from the District unit experienced racial harassment at their encampment in North Carolina.