Heuer House Outreach and Café responds to lawsuits, protests calling for their closure

GLASSPORT, Pa. — A group of protesters had a strong message for the Heuer House after a Glassport teenager was allegedly raped by one of its residents.

Some had signs with them, and others wore shirts that read, “Unity in our community.” They want the Heuer House Outreach and Café closed for good.

Lynette Kohlmeyer told Channel 11 that the issue with the recovery house started back in April. She said her 13-year-old daughter went missing from outside their home. When she showed up later to the police station, she reported that she was raped by a resident at Heuer House.

Resident Shakil Hairston was then arrested and charged.

“What happened to my daughter could have been prevented. Had they know about his background, his criminal, extensive background, he probably wouldn’t have been there,” Kohlmeyer said.

She said she was told by Glassport Borough council members that the house was licensed as a shelter for abused women but, instead, is being used as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

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We reached out to Heuer House for comment on the lawsuit and Tuesday’s protest.

They told Channel 11 that they’ve made a lot of changes since the incident happened and they also said they don’t want to see their facility shut down because they offer numerous services for their community, beyond drug recovery.

“I was completely upset as well as my wife to know that something like this happened on our watch, in our facility,” said Operations Director Walter Butler.

“I was very sick that that would happen because I have four daughters of my own,” Dr. Lawana Butler, Walter’s wife and executive director of the program said. “Had we known, we would’ve called the police on our own and let them know what happened, and he would have been terminated out of our facility,” Dr. Butler said.

The victim’s mother is now suing Heuer House and recently held a protest to shut it down.

>>>RELATED STORY: Woman sues recovery center after teen daughter allegedly raped by resident

Her attorney questions how Hairston was brought on as a resident given his long-standing criminal history, which includes getting a DUI a couple of days before the sexual assault incident.

Dr. Butler said their center is cleared by the county to operate as a three-quarter recovery house, but they offer a number of other services including a GED program and a food pantry.

“I have the property reports; and a lot of the information that’s out there is untrue,” Dr. Butler said.

They say incoming residents are vetted through the county.

“We do have in place where we ask everyone (if they) are they a sexual offender. Do they have violent crimes? We ask P.O’s, their service coordinator,” she said.

Since the incident happened they say they’ve taken additional measures to vet potential residents. Before the incident, security camera footage was only viewable from the office computers and cell phones.

“Now we have increased how often our staff goes up there and looks in the rooms to make sure nothing is going on in the rooms. As well as viewing the camera 24 hours.”

The mayor of Glassport told us that everything involving the Heuer House is under investigation, and he can’t comment any further than that.

“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else’s children. It’s not just my daughter that is affected; it affects the entire family. Our entire family is devastated,” Kohlmeyer said.