WILKES-BARRE – A woman who had been a student at Coughlin High School testified Wednesday that then-teacher Stephen Stahl gave her a vibrator among other gifts during their sexual relationship a decade ago.
The woman, now 26 years old, said she was 16 when she first engaged in sexual acts with Stahl exactly 10 years ago on March 19, 2004, inside his classroom closet.
“That day is when my life changed; it was not a good day for me,” the woman testified at Stahl’s preliminary hearing before District Judge Martin Kane.
Kane forwarded a single count of corruption of minors against Stahl, 47, of Hunlock Township, to Luzerne County Court. Stahl remains free on $5,000 unsecured bail.
“We listened to the evidence and at this point we have some investigation to do to look into some of the allegations,” said Stahl’s attorney, Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. “We look forward to a trial date, hopefully in the fall. At that time, I’m sure there will be plenty of additional statements that will be made.”
The Wilkes-Barre Area School District in February suspended Stahl without pay as a result of the investigation.
He was made dean of students at Coughlin on Jan. 2, and had been a wrestling coach at the school for 17 years, with the last seven years as head coach.
“Obviously it’s difficult,” Olszewski said about his client. “These are serious allegations that are concerning to everybody, especially to his family. He’s dealing with them the best he could. He’s looking forward to a trial date.”
The woman testified Stahl would make comments to her about her appearance in school. “I’m a knockout; I look good today; it looks like you need a message,” the woman said, noting Stahl frequently brought her blueberry muffins.
She alleged Stahl asked her if she was going to his classroom for eighth period, the last class of the day. She said Stahl “ushered” her into a closet where they engaged in sexual acts.
Upon questions by Olszewski, the woman said she willingly went to Stahl’s classroom at the end of her classes, mostly on Fridays.
She said they engaged in sex acts about 20 times in Stahl’s classroom closet, about 10 times in another classroom closet, four or five times in a classroom photo darkroom and four or five times at a motel in Plains Township from March 2004 until she ended the relationship in November 2005.
“It was always on Friday,” she testified. “I didn’t ask for it on Fridays; he asked for it, I didn’t.”
She said Stahl repeatedly told her not to tell anyone for fear he would lose his job and get in trouble.
Stahl allegedly gave the woman gifts, such as a wallet, perfume and a vibrator she said she tossed in a Dumpster. She discarded the gifts while she was in a relationship with a man in 2009 or 2010, she said.
“I got rid of everything so it wouldn’t come in the way with the man I was in a relationship with,” she said.
Asked by Olszewski why she became involved in a relationship with a teacher, she said, “Part of me, as a 16-year-old girl, I was flattered that he was giving me attention. Part of me, I was scared.”