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Milton Hershey School employee charged with sexual offenses against student

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Fernando Zagaceta

DERRY TWP., Pa. — Police charge a house parent at Milton Hershey School for having sexual contact with a student under the age of 13. Fernando Zagaceta, 41, is charged with indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of a minor and endangering the welfare of a minor.

According to court records, an eight-year-old girl told her house parent Saturday that “while she was staying at another student home the house parent touched her inappropriately.”

The girl said she was sleeping in her bed when Zagaceta began touching her arm and pulled her blanket down. She said he then pulled her pants down and began to rub her legs and touch her privates.

Police say Zagaceta admitted to being in the girl’s room and touching her hand to see if she was sleeping. He said he was taught by another house parent to do that. “Zagaceta initially couldn’t remember if he touched her legs or removed the blanket,” police wrote in an affidavit of probable cause.

Police charged him with indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of a child.

The Milton Hershey School issued the following statement:

“This weekend we learned of allegations of sexual misconduct by a school employee and immediately contacted authorities. Such behavior is reprehensible and unacceptable, and we are taking this matter very seriously. The employee has been removed from campus and arrested. We are cooperating fully with law enforcement.

The safety of the children in our care is our highest priority, and we are focused on providing all the care and support that this student needs right now. We do not have any information that would suggest that more children in the house have been affected.

At Milton Hershey School we hold our employees to the highest possible standards and are committed to sustaining a welcoming and safe environment for our students.”

Last year an employee was terminated from Milton Hershey School for placing a hidden camera in a student dorm bathroom. Students discovered the camera in the bathroom of their Transitional Living Facility. Derry Township Police officers retrieved the small digital camera and charged Marcus Burns, a house parent at the time. Police also found guns stored under his bed.

According to online court records Burns pleaded guilty to three gun charges and nine invasion of privacy charges in March. He’s due to be sentenced in September.