An Ohio social worker charged with sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy and making threats against his mother after bonding out of jail now faces a lawsuit.
Payton Harleigh Shires, of Mount Sterling, was named a defendant in the civil suit alongside the National Youth Advocated Program (NYAP), the organization that hired her as a social worker.
The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 20 by the Fitch Law Firm in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, alleged that from August into September, while Shires was employed by NYAP, the social worker “engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship” with John Doe “at various locations in Franklin County, Ohio as well as other Ohio counties.”
The boy’s mother, Jane Doe, reported the “inappropriate conduct” to a NYAP supervisor on Sept. 22 and asked that Shires “be removed from Plaintiff John Doe’s care,” but organization failed to immediately remove her and the “inappropriate sexual relationship continued,” the suit alleged.
Both the mother and son are plaintiffs.
Shires was first arrested on Oct. 6, the day of her 24th birthday, just four months after she got her social worker license. The lawsuit appeared to botch the relevant timeline, however, by alleging that Shires threatened the boy and his mother on the same day as her initial arrest.
Documents obtained by Law&Crime show that the defendant bonded out of jail on the unlawful sexual conduct charges and then weeks later, on Oct. 26, allegedly engaged in witness intimidation against the mother and son. Those charges led Shires’ bond to be revoked, which is why the lawsuit says she is “currently residing” at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
On Oct. 26, Shires, a mental health counselor, allegedly went to the victim’s home with a gun, threatened to take her own life, and claimed the boy’s mother “ruined her life” by reporting her to the Columbus Police Department a month earlier, on Sept. 27. The mother saw Shires on camera sitting on the porch with a gun, authorities alleged.
The lawsuit added a new detail, claiming that Shires fired a shot.
“Defendant Shires made a threatening phone call to Defendant Jane Doe, then later appeared at the house of Plaintiffs with a gun, fired a shot, and continued to engage in threatening and intimidating behavior,” the civil complaint said.
The complaint listed five claims for relief, the first of which was based on Shires’ alleged “intentional criminal wrongdoing.”
Both John and Jane Doe, as a “direct an proximate result of Defendant Shires’ intentional criminal wrongdoings,” have experienced “physical injury, bodily injury, disability, embarrassment, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, pain, suffering, mental anguish, depression, and other disabling injuries and non-economic damages which deny each a normal way of life, all of which will continue into the future and are permanent[.]”
Other claims of relief were filed against NYAP, accusing the organization of liability for the “wrongful acts” of its then-employee, negligence in its hiring and supervision of Shires, and willful, wanton, and reckless misconduct.
NYAP “knew or should have known” that Shires was “not competent or qualified to perform her employment duties,” the suit said.
The plaintiffs sought a jury trial and compensatory damages in excess of $25,000 against each defendant. Court records indicate that a case management conference was scheduled for 9 a.m. on March 11.
Law&Crime reached out to NYAP for comment.
Read the lawsuit here.
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