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Lakeland Teacher Charged With Sex Crimes

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SCRANTON -- A high school band director is accused of having sex with a student in a closet on school property.

Matthew Stevens is the band director at Lakeland Junior-Senior High School in Scott Township, near Montdale.

A former student at the high school went to authorities last week and told them that she and Stevens had sex many times during last school year in classrooms and closets in the school.

24 hours prior to being cuffed and taken to court, Lakeland High School band teacher Matthew Stevens was on vacation when he received a call from Lackawanna County detectives. He was told that he'd been accused of and charged with having sex with a former student at Lakeland Junior-Senior High School near Montdale. That's where Stevens has been the band director for almost three years.

According to court papers, the young woman told police she and Stevens would have sex in the band room, Stevens’ office, even a closet used to store musical instruments.

After the student shared her story, investigators charged Stevens with teacher/student sexual assault, sexual contact with a minor, and corruption of minors.

"She's been consistent and credible. We have lots of corroborating evidence, so we have no reason to doubt her story. She was ready, and I think she wanted to make sure, specifically, that no one else was put in the same position that she was. So, I think that's very admirable on her part,” said Lackawanna County A.D.A. Jennifer McCambridge.

Prosecutors say the evidence they have is an hour-long phone conversation between the former student and Stevens where detectives listened in.

According to court papers, Stevens acknowledged that the two had a sexual relationship for several months when she was 17. That's something Stevens' attorney says they deny.

"We understand police believe something happened, but that doesn't mean something actually happened. So, the fact that they're saying there was a consensual call, let's hear the tape,” said Joseph Caraciolo, Stevens’ attorney.

We spoke with the superintendent of the Lakeland School District, Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones. She says the district can't comment on the charges against the high school band director other than she expects him to be suspended without pay.  There is no word when that may happen. 

Prosecutors said he's one of the first in Lackawanna County to be charged under a new state law.

“A person’s consent or age doesn’t necessarily matter. It’s their status as teacher and student. So in this particular case, the victim was 17 while it happened. Even if she were 18, the fact that she was a student and he was the teacher make it a crime,” said Lackawanna County A.D.A. Jennifer McCambridge.

Stevens was charged with institutional sexual assault, sexual contact with a minor, and corruption of minors. Bail was set at $75,000 but Stevens’ attorney says Stevens will be able to post bail.  

One of the terms of his bail is that Stevens is not allowed on school property.