What to Know
- Michael Cheatle, 37, is accused of engaging in an 18-month-long sexual relationship with an underage student at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.
- The relationship began at the end of the student’s junior year of high school and continued until the summer after her senior year, investigators said.
- On Thursday, the law firm of Youman & Caputo said it is not only representing the original victim but also a second student accusing Cheatle of “inappropriate conduct.”
A private school teacher in the Philadelphia suburbs is accused of carrying on a monthslong sexual relationship with an underage student inside and outside of the school that only recently came to light due to text messages and emails shared by the victim, authorities said.
In July, a former Germantown Academy student came to police with evidence that her and former Latin teacher Michael Cheatle had engaged in sex over an 18-month period that began in 2014 when she was a minor, investigators in Montgomery County said.
The relationship began as a friendship between the student and the then first-year teacher, a criminal complaint said. But, the relationship later turned sexual, investigators said, as revealed in text messages and emails from 2018 and 2019, including some sent from Cheatle’s Germantown Academy email address.
The relationship began at the end of the student’s junior year of high school and continued until the summer after her senior year, investigators said.
When the victim confronted Cheatle in 2019, he wrote to her, “I am totally to blame. I may have inadvertently used our relationship to fill some kind of hole in my lonely and sad life,” according to the complaint.
In a followup message, the victim wrote, “You announced in a room full of my high school friends that your wife was pregnant as though we were not engaging in any emotionally, physically and intimate relationship,” investigators said.
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Cheatle is accused of committing sex acts with the underage student inside and outside Germantown Academy, which is located in Fort Washington.
Cheatle, 37, resigned from Germantown Academy on Sept. 1, investigators said.
Cheatle was charged Tuesday with dozens of counts, including sexual intercourse with a student, unlawful contact with a minor, child endangerment and corruption of minors. The Chester Springs man was arraigned Wednesday and released on his own recognizance with the caveat that he not have contact with the victim or any children, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said.
Germantown Academy is cooperating with the Whitemarsh Police Department and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office investigation.
“We are thankful for the former student’s bravery in stepping forward to alert authorities,” the school said while noting they acted immediately when learning of the allegations.
On Thursday, the law firm of Youman & Caputo said it is not only representing the original victim but also a second student accusing Cheatle of “inappropriate conduct.” A lawyer for the victims said he’s urging Germantown Academy to complete a full investigation.
A spokesperson for the school said they take the allegations seriously and banned Cheatle from school property and having any contact with students and alumni.
No one answered the door at Cheatle’s home Thursday. However, his defense attorney Paul Mallis spoke with NBC10.
“We vehemently deny allegations,” Mallis said. “When we learned about these allegations we immediately addressed it.”
Investigators asked for any other possible victims to come forward and contact Whitemarsh Township Police at 610-825-6530.