Connellsville High teacher accused of 'sexting' student

| Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Charges have been filed against a Connellsville Area High School teacher accused of "sexting" a female student at the school.

Kevin Lee Bell, 26, of 176 Gimlet Hill Road, Mt. Pleasant, was charged with one count of sending sexual materials to a minor and one count of corruption of a minor at District Judge Joseph M. George Jr.'s office on Wednesday.

The charges resulted after the 17-year-old girl told her mother that Bell had texted her pictures of his private parts as well as video of himself committing a sex act.

According to the criminal complaint, state police at Uniontown interviewed the student on Monday. She related that Bell was her math teacher last year, that she and Bell always spoke in school and that he was nice to her.

She said that around March 9, Bell messaged her on Facebook, and she tried adding him to her account, but he told her that she could not add him until she was 18 and had graduated from high school.

She told police that the two continued to message each other that night on Facebook and then exchanged cellphone numbers. She also said she texted Bell and told him that her birthday was in a couple of days. The student said Bell sent her a text saying not to say anything or he would never talk to her again.

Later that evening, the student told police that Bell sent her two pictures of his private parts and she sent him nude photographs of herself. She also said that after she went to sleep, Bell continued to text her and tried calling her more than 20 times, according to the complaint.

Two days later, Bell sent her the explicit video.

A few days later, he sent a text asking her to delete everything and not to text him in school or even speak to him, she told police.

When Trooper James Pierce interviewed Bell at his residence, he reportedly said he had been drinking when he sent the student the pictures. He admitted he may have texted the video but did not remember. He also said he knew the student was 17 years old at the time and provided police with a written statement.

Bell, a 2008 graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, was hired as a math teacher at the high school in 2009. He also coached the school's varsity basketball team for the past two seasons and spent time as an assistant coach on the boys basketball and baseball teams.

"He has been removed from the classroom," Connellsville Area School District interim Superintendent Tammy Stern said. "In addition to the police investigation, we are investigating at the district level."

Privacy concerns prevent her from saying how or when Bell stopped teaching, she said.

Stern also issued a written statement: "The health and safety of all of our students are paramount in any situation. Appropriate steps are taken to protect the students. We are unable to comment on any specific investigations because we would not want to compromise the process."

School director Gary Wandel, a member of the board's personnel and review committee, said: "We have to wait for the legal process to take place. He will not be back in the classroom unless he is exonerated of all charges. Any teacher under investigation is not allowed in the classroom until the investigation is complete."

Bell will be scheduled for a preliminary hearing before District Judge Ronald Haggerty Jr.

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