HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. - A Conrad Weiser High School coach, charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old athlete, has made bail.
Benjamin Stopper stands accused of having a relationship with the student at the school, and while 16 is the age of consent in Pennsylvania, age is not a factor for this particular charge, authorities said.
Stopper has been charged with institutional sexual assault, a charge created to protect minors in settings like schools, camps, mental health institutions and juvenile detention centers.
The law makes it illegal for any employee to engage in sexual activity with any student, patient, detainee or resident.
Allan Sodomsky, a Reading attorney who is not involved in the Stopper case, said it is very rare that institutional sexual assault is charged, adding that the Jerry Sandusky case impacted the way the law was rewritten in February 2012.
"Pretty much a bright line that was drawn for the Legislature with regard to the positions of the older person," Sodomsky said.
The 16-year-old girl had sex with the assistant coach at least 20 times since May, according to court documents.
Police said the teen's father called authorities Friday morning. Stopper was arrested Friday night.
Text messages between Stopper and the teen were found on the girl's phone, according to the arrest warrant.
Sodomsky said similar to any consent case, the prosecution will have to prove that the sexual relationship happened.
If convicted, Stopper could face up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Stopper's wife is a physical education teacher at the same school.
Allentown, PA 18102