WEST CHESTER PA – A 38-year-old Stowe woman (at top), an earth science teacher and softball coach at Owen J. Roberts High School initially charged with inappropriate contact with a male student, was again arrested Tuesday (Aug. 29, 2017) after it was alleged she also had sex with the victim, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced.
Melissa Bonkoski faces multiple felony counts including sexual assault and unlawful contact with a minor, in a case in which Hogan said she engaged “in a sexual relationship” with a 16-year-old male student. He attended one of her classes during his freshman year at the high school, located in South Coventry Township.
“Rule No. 1 if you are a teacher or a coach: Do not have sex with a student. Breaking this rule is a one-way ticket to arrest, losing your job, and prison. Not to mention the profound damage to the victim and the school community which you were entrusted to serve,” Hogan said in a news release.
An investigation led by county Detective Christine Bleiler was triggered when the victim’s girlfriend discovered suspicious texts from Bonkoski to the victim, according to a criminal complaint filed in court. She had purchased a disposable “burner” phone only for communications with the student, detectives reported, and believed the phone would be untraceable to her.
The relationship was said to have begun when Bonkoski communicated with the victim outside of school, and later progressed to kissing and “make-out” sessions in the defendant’s car, according to Hogan. Bonkoski would pick up the victim from work; he said he was afraid he would stop getting rides if he stopped kissing the defendant.
Eventually, detectives determined, Bonkoski invited the victim to her house and discussed oral sex with him. She also kept communicating with him on the phone, and tried to keep the communications secret. Sometime during December 2016, the defendant and the victim allegedly engaged in sex at her home.
Phone text messages from Bonkoski continued even though the victim eventually to cut off contact, the criminal complaint stated. Those texts led to discovery of the crime. Bonkoski resigned from her teaching position earlier this month, as the investigation continued.
The district attorney Tuesday praised Bleiler and county detectives for their extensive and multiple interviews with many parties, as well as a review of complex electronic evidence, “to re-create and corroborate the entire course of the crime … (They) did an excellent job following this case from a small lead to a completed and comprehensive investigation,” he said.
Hogan also commended administrators at the high school as “outstanding” and “cooperative throughout.” They have “taken strong and affirmative steps to address this issue,” he added.
Deputy District Attorney Megan King has been assigned to prosecute the case. More information is still being collected, the DA’s office indicated, and asked anyone with other details about Bonkoski to call Bleiler at 610-344-6866.
Photos from Google Images