Monday, July 21, 2014

Suspended W-B Area dean no stranger to courts

February 11. 2014 8:13PM
By Jon O’Connell

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WILKES-BARRE — The suspended Coughlin High School dean of students, out without pay pending charges he had an ongoing sexual relationship with a then-teenage girl, has passed under the gavel before.

Stephen Stahl, 47, of Hunlock Township, was charged Monday with a misdemeanor count of corrupting a minor when a woman who had been a Coughlin freshman in 2002 told police Stahl had sex with her numerous times in school closets and motels while she was a student.

But it was Stahl’s past offenses, and those of another teacher who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges Feb. 4, that prompted Wilkes-Barre Area School Board to unanimously adopt a new policy that requires teachers to renew background checks every three years.

According to court records, Stahl was convicted of driving drunk in 1996. He pleaded guilty to driving drunk a second time in 2009 in York County, court records show.

He also completed a three-month Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program in 2008 following harassment charges from another Coughlin teacher, arrest papers show. Stahl had been romantically involved with this teacher, but when their relationship ended, Stahl placed more than 100 calls to the teacher in less than one month, many of them anonymous and hang-up calls, according to arrest papers.

Under the old policy, school district employees were subject to background checks only before being hired.

Stahl had been the Coughlin wrestling coach for 17 years, and on Jan. 2 he was promoted to dean of students in the high school. He was suspended without pay last week pending the investigation.

Stahl was released on $5,000 unsecured bail. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27.

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