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Lehigh Valley

Former Pius X coach accused of sexual assault of student

Former Pius X coach accused of sexual assault of student

BANGOR, Pa. - A coach in Northampton County is facing charges of sexually assaulting a student. The suspect was a volunteer volleyball coach at Pius X High School in Bangor.

Stephanie Merlo, 29, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. She is charged with institutional sexual assault and corruption of minors.

Investigators said she was a volunteer volleyball coach at Pius X, which is how she met the alleged 17-year-old female victim. Police said the two had a sexual relationship from September to November.

After the season, the two were intimate three or four times at Merlo's house, according to court documents. Police also said Merlo provided marijuana to the teenager.

Parents in the community reacted to the news of Merlo's arrest.

"You can't take advantage of young kids. I'm thinking about the 17-year-old girl, what she's going to feel the rest of her life," said Shawn Maloney, a parent and recreational league basketball coach. "You always get a few bad apples no matter where you are and maybe that's the case here."

"Small town like this, it's a small school, small closely knit school, you never usually hear anything like that in a small school like that," said Neal Kerler, a parent of three with two children at Pius X,

Matt Kerr, a spokesman for the Diocese of Allentown, released this statement: "From the moment the school was informed by the state police of this matter, the school completely cooperated with the state police investigation and will continue to do so."

Kerr said Merlo passed all background checks and clearances when she was brought on as a coach.

"Unfortunately, with society today, boundaries, there aren't any boundaries anymore. People are walking, they don't know any rules or anything else," said Maloney.

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