Boys-jail assault cases tossed

Judge: No proof of crimes despite teen inmate’s injuries

Press Enterprise Writer

Boy's Assault | Patrick O'Connell Law Office
North Central Secure Treatment Unit inmate Eddie Rivera, Keven D. Shaffer, 38, Watsontown, and Michael T. Kurdinsky, 27

DANVILLE — It’s clear a 17-year- old inmate was injured as at least five staffers tried to restrain him at a ju- venile jail last year, but a judge ruled Tuesday there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute two employees.

Keven D. Shaffer, 38, Watsontown, and Michael T. Kurdinsky, 27, Frackville, saw the charges against them — including felony counts — dismissed by District Judge Marv Shrawder after three-and-a-half hours of testimony.

The ruling was met with tears, hugs, smiles and handshakes from those at- tending the preliminary hearing at the Montour County Courthouse, moved from the District Court office due to the number of people involved.

Shaffer and Kurdinsky had been charged with injuring North Central Secure Treatment Unit inmate Eddie Rivera after Rivera threw a punch at Kurdinsky. The punch missed.

From the stand, Rivera recalled Shaffer driving his knee down into Rivera’s face three times during the altercation, causing a fracture around one of his eyes.

Kurdinsky, police say, leaned Rivera forward using all his weight, and repeatedly lifted Rivera’s upper torso and brought it back down with all his weight toward Rivera’s knees.

That caused nerve damage in the now 18-year-old’s back and a condition called “drop foot,” authorities report.

Rivera said he was knocked unconscious during the incident.

He said he was treated at Geisinger Medical Center for an orbital fracture, nerve damage in his back, and a pinched nerve in his knee.

But Shrawder ruled the restraint was “legitimate” and police failed to prove that crimes were committed or that Shaffer and Kurdinsky were to blame.

Shrawder dismissed counts of aggravated assault, a felony, plus simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

Shaffer was also charged with making false statements.