Ex-teacher claims leniency promised in 'sexting' case
A former high school math teacher accused of “sexting” a student told a judge he was promised leniency in exchange for a confession, but two state troopers denied the allegations.
Kevin Lee Bell, 27, of Gimlet Hill Road, Bullskin, is charged by state police at Uniontown with sending sexual materials to a minor and corruption of minors. Police said Bell texted pictures of his penis and a video of himself performing a sex act to a then-17-year-old girl in March.
With his attorney, Emily Smarto of Greensburg, Bell appeared in court on Thursday in an attempt to have his statements to police suppressed. After a hearing, Judge Gerald R. Solomon denied the request.
During the hearing, Bell testified he left work at Connellsville Area High School on March 20 when his principal advised him of the allegations. He was at his father's office on Prittstown Road in Bullskin when troopers James Pierce and William Brown arrived that afternoon to question him.
Distraught, Bell said he advised Pierce he wanted to be honest, but he could not recall sending the messages to the teen because he had blacked out from drinking.
“He (Pierce) found that hard to believe, but when I drink, that's what happens,” said Bell, adding that his driver's license was under suspension at the time for drunken driving.
Bell said Pierce and Brown rose to leave the office when he told them he did not know what they wanted him to say in a written statement. Bell testified Pierce then advised him he would ask District Attorney Jack Heneks to “go easy on him” if he cooperated.
“He proceeded to say, ‘If you write this down, we'll talk to the district attorney, to go easy on you,'” Bell testified.
Pierce and Brown denied the allegations. Pierce testified that during the March interview with Bell, he explained the difference between a misdemeanor and a more serious felony charge, but he never promised Bell leniency in exchange for a statement.
Pierce testified he read Bell his Miranda rights when Bell agreed to give a statement. Bell initialed a form indicating he understood his rights, Pierce testified, then provided a written statement. Pierce testified he advised Bell he would take his statement to Heneks, but told him that he “was not a judge” and could not guarantee any specific outcome to the case.
Bell resigned his teaching position in May and the state suspended his teaching certification in June. He is free on $25,000 percentage bond.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Uniontown man charged with raping 2 girls
- Normalville church performs Christmas play
- No tax increase for Everson next year
- Uniontown programs get $900K
- Perryopolis police officer dies in Route 51 crash
- Fallen Perryopolis police officer chased his dream
- Connellsville burning rules set to kick in
- Stanley Cup coming to Ice Mine in Dunbar Township
- Fayette inmate represents self at hearing
- Everson volunteer firefighters set to sell hoagies
- Connellsville Area High School Chamber Ensemble awaiting word on sing-off