WEST CHESTER — A former Owen J. Roberts High School teacher pleaded guilty Monday in Chester County Court to having sexual relations with a 16-year-old male student.
Melissa Ann Bonkoski, 38, who was a science teacher and softball coach, pleaded guilty before Judge Ann Marie Wheatcraft to charges of institutional sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and corrupting minors.
“Do you agree that you engaged in sex with a 16-year-old?” Wheatcraft asked the defendant.
“Yes,” Bonkoski responded.
Authorities did not identify the student.
Investigators said Bonkoski of Stowe began the relationship with the freshman in March 2016 by communicating by text messages, and by December 2016, she lured the teen into having sex in her home. Bonkoski resigned after criminal charges were filed in August.
She remains free on bail but faces a nine-to-36-month prison term, according to state sentencing guidelines. Sentencing will be scheduled in three months, following an evaluation by the state Sexual Offenders Assessment Board.
Chester County Assistant District Attorney Emily Ruth Provencher said Bonkoski faces a mandatory requirement of 25 years to report her residence to state police in accordance with state law.
Provencher said the student told county detectives that he did not want to have a relationship with the teacher, but she forced it. During a July 21 interview with detectives, the student said he was upset because he cheated on his girlfriend by having sex with the teacher.
Bonkoski is being represented by Matthew Sedacca, an attorney for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the union representing teachers.
According to Provencher and county and state police reports:
Bonkoski started communicating with the student and his mother by talking on the telephone about the student’s schoolwork. In March 2016, Bonkoski started sending flirtatious text messages to the student using a “burner phone,” which is a disposable cellphone. The teacher said that she did not think that the phone would provide a record of the conversations. Bonkoski gave the student rides home and she kissed him.
“The victim wanted the teacher to stop,” Provencher said. “He was worried if he stopped kissing the teacher she would not give him rides home anymore.”
By December 2016, the teacher lured the victim to have sex with her in her home.
When charges were filed in August, Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan said: “Rule No. 1. If you are a teacher or a coach: Do not have sex with a student.”