Hearing set today for suspect, 24, in statutory rape

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:21 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for a former employee of the Front Door Program, a youth residential community in Columbia. He is accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl who was staying at the facility.

Marcus Fisher, 24, was arrested Aug. 22 on suspicion of second degree statutory rape and endangering the welfare of a child. The police learned that the victim told friends about her involvement with a staff member at the facility.

The teenager admitted to other Front Door staff members that she had sex with Fisher on two occasions, police said.

The Front Door Program provides separate facilities for boys and girls ages 12-21. Residents receive therapy, psychiatric evaluation, medical services and 24 -hour supervision.

Front Door Program Director of Communications Denise LaHay said employees are hired on a contingency basis, pending the background check, and are terminated if a conviction is found on their record.

LaHay declined to say how long Fisher had been employed at the facility but said that he has since been terminated.

Fred Proebsting, state supervisor for the residential program unit of the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division said “corrective action” was taken by Front Door following the assault, and the facility was never in danger of losing its license.

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