Through all the chaos and sorrow that swept through Joplin, Mo., after a devastating tornado in 2011, one man stood out.
David Scott Zimmerman of O’Hara near Pittsburgh consoled teens on Facebook, shipped T-shirts to boys who needed clothing, and prodded a family to form a youth group in honor of their son, who died in the storm.
“He put himself out there for us,” said Shannon Hare, whose stepson, Lantz Hare, 16, was killed in the tornado. “We trusted him.”
Michael and Shannon Hare started the youth group, and Zimmerman helped.
But the relationship quickly soured. Zimmerman formed a new charity and took many of the Hares’ supporters with him.
There was something else. Zimmerman had a secret.
The story of David Zimmerman strikes at the heart of how states regulate youth groups and what information should be disclosed about the organizations and their staffs. The issues are especially timely in Pennsylvania, where new laws about adults who work with children have been proposed in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.