UPDATED - Exeter teacher charged with having improper relationship with student

Jonathan Bell

An Exeter High School art teacher, who was also the coach of the boys' water polo team at Governor Mifflin High School, was arrested and charged Tuesday morning with having a sexual relationship with a female student.

Jonathan Bell, 31 of Wyomissing has been a teacher in the Exeter School District since 2007. He started his career in the district at Lorane Elementary School before moving to the high school. A 1999 graduate of Governor Mifflin High School, he had been the water polo coach there since 2003.

According to a statement issued by the Exeter Township School District, the alleged activities did not occur within the district and did not involve Exeter students. Bell has been suspended with the intent to terminate his employment in the Exeter district. According to Governor Mifflin School District Public Information Officer Keri Morton, Bell is no longer employed by the district or associated with any of the programs.

Attorney General Linda Kelly announced the arrest and charges Tuesday morning. According to the criminal complaint: Bell allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a female student from December 2012 to June 2012. The victim was 17-years-old when the relationship began.

The charges state that Bell allegedly solicited the girl for nude photographs, performed a sexually graphic act for her on video and had at least one sexual encounter with her on school property.

According to the criminal complaint, Bell is charged with corruption of a minor, contact with a minor, obscene and unlawful contact with a minor and a count of child pornography.

The victim told detectives she had known Bell for several years and felt comfortable talking to him about photography and problems she had with a former boyfriend. According to detectives, the victim said the conversation turned to sex within two or three days before he invited her to his house to show her a massage technique for her boyfriend. The relationship then allegedly turned sexual.

The sexual relationship continued from Dec. 30, 2010, until May 5, 2011, at locations including Bell's house, Governor Mifflin High School and in the pool area of the Intermediate School. During that time, Bell allegedly took pictures of the victim in her underwear then 'placed them on his computer so he could alter and modify the images,' according to detectives. Additionally, the victim sent naked pictures and videos of herself to Bell at his request, according to detectives, who said Bell also exposed himself to the victim via Skype.

The parents of the victim informed the administration of Governor Mifflin of the inappropriate relationship on July 5. The administration then informed Berks County detectives. After interviews with the victim, detectives filed paperwork for 'electronic telephone intercepts' during which the victim would talk to Bell. In the conversations, Berks County detectives said Bell confirmed he knew the victim was 17 when their sexual relationship started.

Bail was set at $200,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13, 2012. Kelly emphasized the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Chief County Detective Michael Gombar of Berks County District Attorney's Office at 610-478-7171.

The case will be prosecuted in Berks County by Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye of the Attorney General's Criminal Prosecution Section.

Kelly thanked the Governor Mifflin School District and the Exeter School District for their cooperation and assistance with the investigation. Kelly also thanked the Berks County District Attorney's Office for their ongoing assistance.

comments powered by Disqus