Former central Pa. lawyer, church bishop, scout leader charged with sexually abusing 12-year-old


July 29, 2023

By Madison Montag

Note: This story has been updated to better detail Gooden’s background.

A former bishop with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, boy scout leader and lawyer from central Pennsylvania is facing several charges including the rape of a person less than 13 years old.

Pennsylvania State Police say Shawn Gooden sexually abused a 12-year-old while on a camping trip in Pennsylvania with the victim and the victim’s brother in 2000.

Last week Gooden pleaded guilty to charges in Virginia for assaulting a child in the 1990s and early 2000, according to abc27.

Records show that a camping reservation was made for Shawn Gooden at French Creek State Park in April 2000.

In a 2023 interview with state police, the victim said the sexual abuse started as a game of truth or dare. State police say at some point, Gooden performed oral sex on the victim as well as having the victim perform oral sex on him.

The victim also detailed that Gooden brought Vaseline that he applied to the victim’s penis, telling him to have anal sex with Gooden. The victim also said they “felt gross” and had to leave the tent to throw up at one point.

Troopers spoke with Gooden on June 14, 2023, when he admitted that everything the victim detailed had occurred and that he knew it was wrong.

Gooden is facing three charges of rape of a person less than 13 years old and 16 related charges. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 8, 2023.

Gooden worked as a lawyer for Weber Gallagher and Thomas, Thomas & Hafer, LLP in Harrisburg from 2004 to 2022, according to a LinkedIn page. Gooden was also named as a bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ Lebanon Ward according to a Facebook post, and acted as a member of the executive board for the New Birth of Freedom Boy Scouts organization until 2022, although he has not been an active member since 2019.

By  Madison Montag |