A suburban Philadelphia science teacher and softball coach broke “rule No. 1” when she had sex with one of her male students and “bombarded” him with harassing text messages from a “burner” phone, prosecutors said.
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced Tuesday that Melissa Bonkoski of Stowe, Pennsylvania, had sex with a 16-year-old student. The 38-year-old teacher was previously charged with institutional sexual assault and inappropriate contact with the student after allegations of kissing and touching came to light, Hogan said.
Bonkoski taught science and coached softball at Owen J. Roberts High School in Pottstown until she resigned earlier this month as the investigation came to light, Hogan and school officials said.
“Rule No. 1 if you are a teacher or a coach: Do not have sex with a student,” Hogan said. “Breaking this rule is a one-way ticket to arrest, losing your job, and prison, not to mention profound damage to the victim and the school community which you were entrusted to serve.”
Chester County detectives became aware of the allegations in March after the now 16-year-old student told them he was being harassed by Bonkoski over text messages, a criminal complaint said.
The texts had begun innocently enough in 2015 when the boy had freshman science with Bonkoski. At first the messages were about schoolwork but the messages became more frequent and more personal in nature, police said.
Bonkoski told police she used a special phone to communicate with the boy because she thought it couldn’t be traced to her: “I thought I was being smart,” she told police.
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Some of the messages linked to a phone owned by Bonkoski from this past March included her saying she “really needed to talk” after stating the boy hadn’t called her back, police said.
In July, Bonkoski told investigators that she and the victim had kissed three to four times in a car and that they had discussed sex. The boy also had slept in her bed.
The boy told investigators that he was shocked that he kissed a teacher and that he tried to make the messages and contact stop but that the defendant kept calling and texting him, even after changing her number without explanation, police said.
In August, during a second interview, Bonkoski told investigators she picked up the victim from work in December and took him back to her house where they watched television before kissing for the first time and then having sex, police said. She told investigators a series of “make out” sessions followed until all sexual contact ceased in January.
The victim later admitted to having sex with Bonkoski at her Stowe, Pennsylvania home and said he was upset that he had cheated on his girlfriend with his former teacher.
Hogan credited OJR leadership with cooperating with the investigation and taking “strong and affirmative steps to address this issue.”
Acting superintendent Dr. Anthony Costello told NBC10 Tuesday that the district would be making no further comment aside from its initial statement that said they couldn’t comment further due to the ongoing investigation.
Bonkoski posted bond Tuesday after being arraigned on 12 felony counts, courts records say. Her attorney didn’t immediately return NBC10’s call for comment.