Former Coach Sentenced to Jail Term for Sex with Student

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WILKES-BARRE -- A former Coughlin High School wrestling coach and dean was sentenced to six to 23 months in jail for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. That relationship happened more than a decade ago.

It wasn't until early last year that the victim came forward and Stephen Stahl was charged.

The victim and the Luzerne County District Attorney's office both say they are satisfied with the sentence for Stephen Stahl. They also hope it encourages other victims of sex crimes to come forward.

Stephen Stahl left the Luzerne County Courthouse, headed to the county jail where he'll be for at least the next six months.

The former Coughlin High School wrestling coach and dean was sentenced for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student.

"The actual facts of this case were egregious, in that this was a teacher victimizing a student who was a minor, on school property during the school day," said Luzerne County Assistant D.A. Nancy Violi.

The 18-month-long sexual relationship started in 2004. The victim came forward 10 years later and in January, Stahl was convicted of corruption of minors.

While the victim does not want her identity revealed, she wants people to know why she came forward a decade after the crime.

"I felt the need to defend that 16-year-old girl, but I am a 27-year-old woman now. I would like to one day feel that I don't need to defend her."

She said it was hard to hear Stephen Stahl's family cry about how his life is now ruined from a case that was based mostly on her testimony, but she found some relief when Judge Michael Vough told Stahl, "You are not the victim here. Some people may think she was a willing participant, but a 16-year-old girl gets the benefit of the doubt, not a 37-year-old man."

The victim says she has been called names and scrutinized, but in a statement she read during sentencing, she said she hopes it was all for the greater good.

"I hope other victims have the courage despite what I've been through, and what they've read about me, to know that there will be people in their corner."

"I think this is a perfect example," said Luzerne County District Attorney Stephanie Salavantis. "We had a victim who came forward and we put all of our resources into prosecuting this, and we got a positive outcome. We are very, very happy today."

Stahl was facing a maximum of five years for the corruption of a minor charge. He received six to 23 months, but if he has any contact with the victim or harasses her, the judge warned he could still get that maximum sentence.


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