CUMRU TWP., Pa. - A Berks County teacher and coach accused of having inappropriate sexual relationships with four teenagers, spent Thursday in court.
Locked arm-in-arm with his mother, Jonathan Bell walked into his preliminary hearing stone faced and quiet, set to confront his accusers for the very first time.
Once inside, the judge listened to nearly two-and-a-half hours of testimony. One-by-one, Bell's alleged victims took the stand and described the very graphic sexual encounters they said they shared with Bell, which most times took place in his parents' home.
"I think all the victims that are involved here are very brave to come forward. It's a hard thing for any young girl to do," said Christopher Jones, deputy attorney general with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office.
The hearing started with three different cases that involved four alleged victims. When it was finished, one case that involved one alleged victim was dropped, and several charges, including one that carried a mandatory minimum of 10 years incarceration was dismissed.
"I believe in Jon Bell. I believe he deserves the reputation that one of the witnesses said he had and has," said Allan Sodomsky, the defense attorney representing Bell.
Bell is now the former water polo and swim team coach for Governor Mifflin High School. He's also a teacher for the Exeter School District. Officials said he's currently suspended without pay.
"There are three victims we still have charges on," said Jones.
Bell's attorney called those charges horrific, but said it's interesting how stories change.
"As we move forward, the court process will take its course and we are very hopeful justice will be done," said Sodomsky.
The remaining charges against Bell have been held for court. A formal arraignment has been set for November 19.
Allentown, PA 18102