UPDATE: Volunteer Coach Accused of Recording Girl Changing

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PALMERTON -- A Palmerton High School weightlifting coach is in trouble with the law.  He’s accused of recording a student athlete as she changed clothes in a school bathroom.

Robert Eckhart, 41, of Palmerton surrendered Friday.  Troopers say that last month he used a cell phone to record a 17-year-old female student athlete as she changed her clothes.

From the weight room to the court room – Robert Eckhart walked into a magistrate’s office in Palmerton.  Eckhart is accused of secretly recording a Palmerton High School Student as she changed clothes in a bathroom.

"It is a very sensitive case; I mean, come on, you have the Palmerton Area School District involved,” said defense attorney George Dydynsky.

According to court papers the incident happened last month.  Eckhart was meeting the 17-year-old girl for weightlifting practice at Palmerton High School and texted her to find out when she would arrive.  Eckhart told her to change in a specific bathroom when she got there.  The girl told state police that’s when she found a cell phone propped up against a wall recording video.

Former Palmerton High School students call the accusations alarming.

"It's uncomfortable. It makes me wonder what else could go on.  And I'm really happy for the girl that she spoke up and told someone,” said 2013 Palmerton graduate Maria Martinez.

"It shouldn't be happening.  I don't know. Like I said, it's disgusting,” said 2012 Palmerton graduate William Fronheiser.

Linda Kraftician’s daughter is a senior at Palmerton High School. She said this news is disturbing for parents, too.

"Yes, definitely troubling, someone that age shouldn't even be thinking about someone that young, let alone snapping pictures of them,” said Kraftician.

According to court papers, Eckhart denies that the iPhone found inside the high school bathroom was his.  Parents and former students in Palmerton say they hope investigators get to the bottom of this troubling situation.

"Yes, definitely take the right steps and find out what's going on and why,” said Kraftician.

"I hope they get to the bottom of it, because that's what needs to be done,” said Michelle Crewn of Palmerton.

Eckhart is a father of three, and now faces felony charges.  He’s ordered to stay away from school property as part of his bail.

Newswatch 16 attempted to reach school officials at Palmerton Area’s administration office.  No one would talk with us about the incident and our phone calls and emails to the district were not returned.


  • Skeptic

    I don’t know the guy… but I’m surprised (or maybe not) that everyone has already convicted him based on a news article alone. Did anyone consider that this could have been a setup to milk money out of the school in the civil suit that they’ve probably already filed? Money is one heck of a motivator, especially since the alleged victim’s identity can never be revealed. Blame the victim? Sure, sounds terrible. But the point is that it happens more often than people want to think, and it’s certainly possible in this case. If he’s guilty, he deserves the shame, but nobody reading this article really knows.

    • Jimmy D

      He actually gave the state police a written confession a few days after it happened. WNEP missed that part of the story.

  • mdog

    Sexuall devience at any level is not normal nor “gifted”
    it is something that needs to be treated.
    Those who have this are aroused at the site of a child as you or i are
    to our desired gender.They cant control such desires.(words from a pedifile spoken to a freind who was close with him till his “hobby was discovered”)
    I was floored one day when a co-worker looked out the loading dock and said “Wow Look at that Hot Chick” so i looked and all i saw was a 12 yr old girl walking up the street.. Within 18 months he was in prison
    for attempting to meet a child on the web. He soon died of testicular cancer oddly enough. BY ALL MEANS IN NO WAY AM I STICKING UP
    FOR SUCH BEHAVIOUR. i JUST wish more studies were done on all forms of Sexuall devience.I also am the guy who reported/helped catch
    a young man trying to abduct 2 children in my town.

  • Real thinking

    The age discrepancy is pretty big but all around the world there are people 17 and younger getting married, having children, working full time jobs. America has made certain rules about what age is the right age for consent, drinking, smoking, driving, etc, but for thousands of years, teens, male and female, have been having intercourse and thats never going to change. In this case he is definitely in the wrong filming without consent, but if she would have agreed to have it done i would not have a problem, because that would have been her choice. Moral of the story kids is think before you act and always get consent!

  • Me

    This is just one example of the type of people this region produces. Alcoholics and sex offenders have been this areas speciaity for many years, with meth recently added to the list. LOL. Also how is a drug screen going to help? If anyone bothered to READ any statistics instead of just making them up they would see that alcoholism is linked to most cases of abuse, sexual or otherwise. That is a source of denial in this area because of the proud alcoholic culture that exists, which is the source of the comment I’m sure.

  • Mike

    Every week there is a teacher or a coach doing something that involves sex and students. School districts need to start doing psych evaluation QUARTERLY on all faculty and staff or thing like this will just continue to happen.

  • Busted

    The Perv could have bought a raunchy mag. for $5. Instead he’s going in the slammer for awhile for a few cellphone shots WOW you cannot fix stupid

  • mastermind

    There is also an epidemic of fathers from custody battles telling their chidren to lie about being abused, either to get back at the spouse or go after the man whom the spouse now loves. Try asking a man from back in 2010 who was accused of rape and 8 other horrible crimes against a child, only to be aquitted 6 months later!!! The man nearly died in prison!!! Last but not least, be very concerned about Schuylkill county children and youth, because in my opinion. they are a dangerous organization.

  • ME

    How sick! What is it with all these sex crimes, lately? It’s almost as if these perverts want everyone to know they’re out there.

  • George V

    Not all, but many teachers, coaches, police, clergy and such… put themselves in these kind of “positions” for a reason, easy access to our young. Trust NO-ONE and let your children know the same at a very early age!

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