Child Sex Charges Filed in Lackawanna County

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PECKVILLE -- This is a story that is very difficult for us to report, but in fairness we must.

Prosecutors have filed charges in a child sex abuse case they have been investigating for more than three years. Mark Kandel, of Peckville, is facing charges related to child pornography.

Kandel is a former educator in Lackawanna County and is the husband of Newswatch 16’s Marisa Burke. Kandel’s accused of sending sexual text messages and Facebook messages to teenage boys.

Lackawanna County detectives brought Mark Kandel to the District Attorney’s Office in Scranton in handcuffs. This concludes more than three years of investigation. According to court papers, detectives went undercover after receiving multiple complaints from teens and parents saying Kandel sent inappropriate messages to young boys.

Kandel is facing three felony charges, including criminal solicitation to create child pornography. The detectives’ investigation centered around a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy. According to an affidavit filed Wednesday, Kandel sent sexual pictures and messages to the boys’ cell phones and Facebook pages.

When the boys contacted police, detectives went undercover. Detectives said Kandel sent 900 text messages to undercover officers last month where Kandel discussed exchanging sexual pictures.

“I think any time you have accusations like this it’s troubling. Any time the children of our community are put in this position, it’s troubling. It’s more so troubling when you have someone who’s been exposed to the difficulties of the criminal justice system before and is clearly continuing that type of behavior,” said Deputy Assistant District Attorney Jennifer McCambridge.

Kandel has been in trouble with the law before. In 2008, he was charged with furnishing alcohol to minors and eventually pleaded guilty to the charge.

Kandel was arraigned on his new charges on Wednesday in Lackawanna County Court.

“The first inkling, when you look at allegations like this and the public reads them, is disdain, it’s distasteful. I’ve met Mark and I know his wife, these are very very nice people. I just want people to understand that,” said Kandel’s attorney Frank Santomauro.

After his arraignment, Kandel’s bail was set at $20,000.