Shaler man accused of sexually abusing boy, 8, on separate occasions

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SHALER, Pa. - A Shaler man accused of sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy on two separate occasions last year was arrested Wednesday, according to police.

Authorities said 21-year-old Shawn Flaherty is accused of abusing the boy once in October and again in December. Investigators said both alleged assaults happened in the basement of Flaherty’s home.

“The families were celebrating a birthday party and the two went down to the basement where they were alone for a few minutes,” Shaler Police Detective Michael Heinl said.

According to the criminal complaint, Flaherty threatened to harm the child if he told anyone.

“Yes, (he threatened him). He told him he would harm him with physical violence,” Heinl said.

Eventually, police said, the child told his parents he didn’t want to go back to Flaherty’s home.

Flaherty is facing several charges, including rape, indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. He faces a preliminary hearing May 29.

Authorities told Channel 11’s Renee Kaminski that children coming forward are key to these type of investigations.

“Our department was notified by the Child Line,” Heinl said.

Heinl told Kaminski that they urge callers to report child abuse, and said they can do so anonymously.

“It’s extremely important for us to be notified of cases of physical or sexual abuse. It’s a tool we use here in Shaler and we investigate right away,” Heinl said.

Here’s the toll-free number for the PA Child Line: 1-800-932-0313. The hotline is answered by trained specialists 24 hours per day to receive reports of suspected child abuse. Callers may remain anonymous.