Sexual assault at prep school: Pennsylvania case

A minor student at a prep school in Pennsylvania states his college counselor and swim coach sent highly sexualized emails and texts.

A swim team coach and guidance counselor at Malvern Prep, a private all-boys high school, was recently charged with sexual assault of a student and swim team member. The charges, according to a recent report by the Malvern Patch, a local newspaper, include institutional sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and indecent assault. The accused, a 40 year-old woman, worked at the institution for approximately two years. The victim, a 16 year-old boy at the time of the offense, was a member of the swim team who was assigned to the accused as his college guidance counselor.

More on the allegations

The investigation began when the county's Department of Children, Youth and Families received notice of "highly sexualized" emails and texts from a swim coach and counselor to a student. The department informed the Chester County Detective Child Abuse Unit, which found evidence that the accused had kissed the victim and sent emails including photographs of the accused in various stages of undress. These emails included a photo of the accused topless.

Threatening comments were also found. One involved the accused claiming she could use her contacts to gain the victim admission into Harvard University. The accused allegedly forwarded a message stating the victim was being considered for Harvard's swim team and stated that the victim "owed [her] big time. And no high fives."

Sexual assault of minors at schools and Pennsylvania state law

If these allegations are supported, the accused will likely be found guilty of committing institutional sexual assault of a minor. Institutional sexual assault of a minor is defined under state law as sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with an inmate, detainee, patient or resident where the accused acts intentionally, knowingly or recklessly regarding the status of the partner as an inmate, detainee, patient or resident and the victim is under the age of 18. The accused must be an employee or agent of the Department of Corrections, county correctional authority, youth development center, youth forestry camp, state or county juvenile detention facility, other licensed residential facility serving children and youth or a mental health or mental retardation facility or institution.

A similar crime is institutional sexual assault at a school, which involves the accused engaging in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with a student of the school where the accused is a volunteer, employee or any other person with direct contact with a student at the school.

Remedies available to victims

This case is just one example of the abuse children can face in schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions. Although the criminal justice system offers criminal penalties to those who commit these violations, additional remedies are often available through civil suits. A civil suit can provide additional closure, helping victims take an additional step towards healing.