Poconos Coal

Police: Volunteer powerlifting coach videotaped teenage girl

Robert Eckhart allegedly used cell phone to tape her as she changed clothes

LOWER TOWAMENSING TWP., Pa. - A man has been charged for allegedly videotaping a teenage girl in a gym bathroom as she changed into her gym clothes.

Robert Eckhart set up his cell phone in the bathroom of the weightlifting room at Palmerton Area High School in Carbon County around 5 p.m. on Feb. 8 and asked the girl to use that bathroom to change into her weight training clothes.

Before she arrived, the 17-year-old victim told police that Eckhart had texted her several times, wanting to know the exact time she would arrive at the school at 3525 Fireline Rd. in Lower Towamensing Township for her power lifting session.

The girl saw the cell phone after changing her clothes and realized the cell phone was in video mode. She reported the incident on Feb. 10 to school officials, who immediately notified state police in Lehighton.

Eckhart initially denied that the phone belonged to him or that he knew who it belonged to, but the victim told police she later saw him using that cell phone, according to court documents.

At a voluntary interview at a state police barracks on Feb. 12, police said Eckhart denied any involvement in this incident and gave police his cell phone for a forensic analysis.

Documents show that on Feb. 15, Eckhart arrived unannounced at state police headquarters in Lehighton and admitted he had set up the cell phone in the bathroom with the intent to get video of the victim in various stages of undress.

Eckhart, 41, of Palmerton, was a strength training coach with the Palmerton Area School District and was a nationally ranked powerlifter.

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