YSS Statement Raises Questions

New questions were raised last week when the Youth Services System Board of Directors issued a statement on what happened in late August at a Wheeling Island building owned by the organization.

On Aug. 28, police arrested Shelton Cash, 44, of Elkview, W.Va., at the YSS building, located near Madison School. Cash is charged with five counts of possession of child pornography and of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Cash, who served time in prison for murder, was living at the YSS building and working in the mining industry locally. A 12-year-old Kanawha County girl told authorities there that during weekend trips home, Cash had sex with her and videotaped some encounters on his cell phone.

After the arrest, YSS Executive Director John Moses said the building, formerly owned by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, sometimes is used as “a temporary refuge for people until they can get their affairs in order, find affordable housing and then move on.” He added YSS does not conduct background checks on homeless people who need help. Moses said he was unaware Cash had a job.

YSS board members, in a short statement issued this week, noted the organization “has a long track record in helping youth and families.” That certainly is true; YSS has done wonderful work. In addition, board members expressed regret for the situation.

Then, however, they added, “This incident didn’t involve any of our programs, just the use of the convent (building). All activity has ceased at the convent which is again vacant. We will share future plans for this facility with the community.”

If the Cash situation didn’t involve YSS programs, how is it that he was given lodging there? Were board members aware the Wheeling Island building was being used as it was?

YSS board members were right to end all use of the building, at least for the time being. Consulting with community members before using it again is wise.

Again, however, the seeming contradiction between Moses’ comments and the board’s statement needs to be explained.