Seth Jacoby

Seth A. Jacoby

The former music director of an Oley Township church has been charged with improperly restraining a congregation member after she refused to kiss him during a private guitar lesson at the church.

Seth A. Jacoby, 47, address unknown, was free on $20,000 bail to await a hearing after arraignment Thursday night before Senior District Judge Thomas H. Xavios in Reading Central Court.

He was charged with false imprisonment, simple assault and harassment.

According to the criminal complaint:

On Oct. 7, Central Berks Regional Police, which provides police services to Oley Township, received a call from an administrator of Friedens United Church of Christ, 337 Main St. The administrator reported that a few weeks earlier, the newly hired music director had grasped the woman during a guitar lesson and demanded that she kiss him.

The woman didn’t want to call police directly but she gave her friend permission to do so on her behalf.

On Oct. 29, an investigator met the woman and her friend at the office for an interview.

According to investigators:

The victim said she met Jacoby at a church function around Labor Day, shortly after the church hired Jacoby to serve as its paid music coordinator. During their conversation, she mentioned she had a guitar at home and wanted to learn how to play. Jacoby offered to teach her and they arranged her first lesson for Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. in the church.

Everything seemed normal when the lesson began, but she noticed Jacoby kept looking at the door. After about 30 minutes aof playing, the lesson stopped and they began discussing poetry. Jacoby told her he had something he wanted to ask her but he was afraid to because she might tell the church administration.

Eventually he told her he thought she was beautiful. After several more minutes of awkward conversation in which he said he didn't believe in marriage, he physically stood the woman up, removed her glasses and hair tie and reportedly said, “I want you to kiss me.” 

She refused to kiss him. He squeezed both of her arms while repeating, “I want you to kiss me.” She estimated he continued to hold her for 45 minutes during which time she felt scared and trapped.

Finally, at about 7:45 p.m., her cellphone rang. Jacoby told her to answer it and it was a relative asking her when she would be home. When she got off the phone, she told Jacoby she needed to leave.

As she was getting into her car, Jacoby stood near the car, blocking her from opening the door. She told him she needed to leave, and he reportedly said, “This never happened” before stepping aside and letting her leave.

The following day, Jacoby sent the woman an email offering to give her another guitar lesson. She declined.

On Sept. 11, two days after the lesson in the church, the woman was getting her hair done at a friend’s salon. The stylist noticed something was bothering the woman and noticed bruises on both of her arms.

On Sept. 15, following a church service, Jacoby approached the woman and reportedly said, “Are we OK?” 

After another encounter two days later, the woman reported the incidents to a friend in the church administration, and Jacoby soon quit.

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