Pennsylvania Swim Coach Jonathan Bell Arrested on Sexual Abuse Charges

  66 Braden Keith | August 07th, 2012 | Featured, National, News

As investigations into alleged inappropriate sexual acts by Virginia coaches Rick Curl and Noah Rucker are heating up, a new one has begun up the coast in Pennsylvania. Jonathan Bell, a coach of Governor Mifflin High School near Reading has been accused by a former student of an inappropriate sexual relationship.

According to the state Attorney General’s office, a criminal complaint has been filed by a former student claiming that the two had intercourse between 10 and 12 times from December of 2010 and June of 2012. The student was 17 when the relationship began.

The complaint was filed on July 5th by the assistant superintendent of the school district. Among the accusations are that Bell asked for, and received, nude photos and videos, that he performed a sexually explicit act on her and video taped it, and had at least one sexual interaction by the pool on school property.

After the complaint, detectives listened in on four phone calls between Bell and the alleged victim between July 23rd and August 6th. In one of those calls, Bell asked “Are you upset that it happened before you were 18?”.

The report didn’t specify how many of the accusations happened before the victims 18th birthday.

Bell was an art teacher, as well as a coach of the swimming and water polo teams.

The charges filed are two counts of unlawful contact with a minor, one count of corruption of minors, and one count of criminal solicitation. He is being held in Berks County Prison with bail set at $200,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Next Monday.

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DutchWomen
4 years 1 month ago

Another blow for swimming as a whole. Male coaches need to keep their f***ing pants on. It’s also a two way street – high school girls need to learn to say NO and mean it. This girl surely didn’t seem to have a problem with it at the time if she even agreed to video and they did it 12 times!!! Awful behavior on both parts – I say hold them both accountable!!!

Old timer
4 years 1 month ago

Sad … Mitch Ivey was the first “big name” to bring shame to the sport. And you never would have suspected that he woul do what he did if you had known him as an age grouper / high school swimmer.

laxgirl
4 years 1 month ago

Such a shame! And he was my art teacher at Exeter too! Never would have execpted it out of him!

s gomez
4 years 1 month ago

2 things to contribute: first of all, its naive to think that this is exclusively a male problem, ~10% of people on USA swimming banned/flagged list are female, one particular story from Utah has a lot of similarities to this one only the perpetrator is female and I believe alcohol is somehow involved (not to say it isn’t here, but I’ve seen nothing to imply that). I would look it up, but I mean, theres a swimswam article on it from oh about 2009 or so

Second of all, reading is one of the leading swimming communities on the whole east coast of a citiy its size. There are more pools/swim teams and swimmers then I’ve ever encountered. I think Mifflin has a pretty strong tradition, I can’t remember if they were the powerhouse or the school with the good club for pre-highschool swimmers. Anyway, to those who have never spend time in reading and seen their swimming community, it’s really quite impressive and such a shame that it’s going to take a major hit like this.

Know him
4 years 1 month ago

Jon Bell coached my kids for over a decade. One is currently on the Water Polo team. The kids he coached are devistated. All of them loved him as a coach and looked up to him. In the decade I have watched him coach I never would have suspected it. What adult invites a girl he coaches or teaches underage or not to his apartment for a massage? Did he really think the story would never have gotten out? He ruined his life, and sarced teh girl he was with, his wife, his family, and the kids he coached at Mohnton, and Mifflin.

Know Him2
4 years 1 month ago

The Bell family is an amazing family that has had a wonderful presence in Mifflin, Mohnton, and Shillington swimming over many years. I have known Jon and the family for as long as I can remember, and my hearts go out to them. There is more to this story than just what is on the surface. In time it will all come out, but know, there is a lot more to learn about Mr. Jon Bell than just this article. I am completely sickened to find out about this, and even though I am hundreds of miles away from my hometown now, I know that this is rocking the entire swimming community, which is more than a sport in Berks County — it is a culture.

dave
4 years 1 month ago

Your sick for saying how good he is. Did you know the police took his computers and he has many pics of underage girls that he has in sexual positions some nude some in bathing suits some with clothing etc etc. Your right the truth will come out and we hope he gets what he deserves

Know him
4 years 1 month ago

This is an active investigation. You are now saying there are underage girls clothed and unclothed on his computer? How do you know this? Have you called the police with this or are your spreading information that should not be made public?

KNOWHIM2
4 years 1 month ago

I never said that the new information coming out was good news, and I NEVER said he was a good person. I was referring to his family. What I am saying is, if you think you are shocked now — give it a few weeks.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

Did Jonathan Bell FORCE any student to have sexual relations with him? I believe that two complaints from YEARS ago have been published besides the last one. Why would any “victim” wait almost 10 years to report a sexual attack? This is one of the worst victimizations not only in Berks County but statewide and beyond. One might note that “rape” or “forcible rape” was never mentioned. These girls were not victims but willing and eager sex partners. We live in an anti-male society today and it is eroding the very heart of our schools and our respect for male teachers. I wish all the luck in the world to this young man and if this is a fair and just country with equal justice for men, Jonathan Bell will be vindicated and return to coaching.

R U nuts?
4 years 1 month ago

If you actually read the report you would also see the 17 yr old never reported him, She told a friend and that friend told her parents, who then told the 17 yr old parents who then called the school. Please tell me if Alexandre or Capucine had sex with an older person that was supposed to be their coach/teacher, would you be okay with it?

.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

I’m not aware of the tangled way in which these charges transpired but I smell a fish. This country is anti-male. I am not. By the way, Capucine is not my daughter and I have never met her. Alexandre never participated in sports and in fact got a doctor’s note to excuse him from high school gym class. In Europe, sports and education are separate. Students who wish to engage in sports join after-school sports clubs. Schools are for EDUCATION. This would not have been able to happen in Europe.

Favoriteteacher
4 years 1 month ago

Mr bell was my absolute favorite teacher and I’m so upset to find this out . He was always someone I could go to with anything yes what happened is horrible and I’m disappointed but that still does not change the fact that he is a good person and if a 17 year old girl consents to sleeping with someone they know exactly what they are doing . He should have known to but she is just in the wrong in the article it says they were together at her house also and if you invite a man who you have had sexual intercourse with before you know what you are doing . A 17 to 18 year old knows the difference between right and wrong and if she would have said no to mr bell just once he would have backed off .

Know him
4 years 1 month ago

Dear FAVORITETEACHER,

Obvisously he did not mentor you well enough to teach you the legal system. The legal system does not allow a girl under 18 to consent to a man 11 olders. End of story. It does not matter how mature she is. IT IS ILLEGAL. If you think a 17 year old is mature enough, then where do you draw the line? Is 16 mature enough? 15? how about 14. Hell look at this 12 year old, she is smart and agrees so is it okay? The line was drawn at 18, Jon knew it, and no matters how much the girl came on to him, his job was to send her away. He did not. Your problem is you liked Jon so you are trying to give him some wiggle room. You cannot. You say a 17 year old knows the difference? I say a 29 year old male knows the difference between right and wrong. I also knew Jon and was upset as well. I was upset that HE COULD BE SO STUPID. Jon made his bed and do not blame the girl or anyone else but him.

Favoriteteacher
4 years 1 month ago

Did I say 12 years old or 13 or 14 no i said 17 which is the age of consent .I’m not and idiot I know a twelve year old is not able to make a decision like that but a girl who is about to be an adult knows . You do not have to be rude I’m simply saying that he was a good teacher when I had him and that he was a good person . He made a mistake an I even stated that he did make a bad choice on this , he made a horrific mistake and ruined his career forever and yes that is his fault but if this girl is going to come forward and make it seem like she is complete victim is outrageous .

knowhim
4 years 1 month ago

In PA the age of consent is 18, not 17. Since she was 17 and he was 4 years older than her it was rape. PERIOD. In regards to the girl, her parents found out and filed the complaint. He made a mistake??? At last count he made 10. 4 computers seized and his hearing did not take place yesterday? I would be careful about defending him, as I think this is going to get a lot worse.

CONSENT
4 years 1 month ago

The age of consent in PA is 16. The criminal charges don’t involve the fact that he had sex with this girl. They are all regarding the photos and videos exchanged between the two.

Know him
4 years 1 month ago

Please contact the State Attornies General office since you seem to know the law better than them.

http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/press.aspx?id=6610

CONSENT
4 years 1 month ago

Know him – I recognize that this is a very emotionally charged topic of discussion. In no way do I think Jon’s actions should be condoned. However, I think it is important that people understand the nature of the charges. Please take a look at this website, http://www.ageofconsent.com/pennsylvania.htm which explains in great detail the laws regarding consent and sexual contact in the state of PA. It may help you understand what each charge means as it did me. I hope that you are able to look at this issue with an objective eye and better understand the law before you continue to make false claims about rape, etc. on this website.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

Good points!!!! One must consider too where were the parents when these alleged illicit incidents took place? I think that too many of our young are influenced by show business freaks and immoral characters. Mr. Bell sounds like a nice guy. What a horrible shock this must have been. I have supported him but can’t get my voice out. I have been rebuffed by the Reading Eagle. They said they would print my letter then backed out. They said I could not refer to the girls’ characters so I took that out. Then they didn’t publish my revised letter and when I called them they were rude. They won’t allow any letter in defense of this man, who is supposed to be “innocent until proven guilty”.

CONSENT
4 years 1 month ago

No need. All of there charges make sense based upon that law. I just wanted to inform those of you that did’t have your facts straight.

Just wait
4 years 1 month ago

I would wait until he has his hearing before worrying whether someone got the story right or wrong.

Know him
4 years 1 month ago
KNOWHIM2
4 years 1 month ago

I told you there would be more.

Know him
4 years 1 month ago

This one is 2003, and then the other one was 2009. I hope, but doubt he was not active for the 6 years. I just hope anyone with information contact the investigators and let them know. He needs to be put away for a long time. There is no defense to his behavior. This girl was now 15. Even the idiots defending him with a 17 year old, has to accept a child at 15 has no clue what is going on.

CONSENT
4 years 1 month ago

I’m sorry that your outlet for your aggression surrounding this case has to be taken out on someone who was just making an effort to help you understand the nature of the original charges. I would hope that all of us who are taking the time to comment on this case are also using our energy in a positive way to educate others. It’s sad when we must digress to petty comments and personal attacks surrounding issues this serious in nature.

CONSENT
4 years 1 month ago

You’ll notice the differences between the first case and the second was the age of the victims and that the second case involving a girl under the age of 16 can be charged as rape. So again this defends my original point that the first change was not involving sex and consent and was not rape. As I said earlier, I’m not defending Jon’s behavior. I think it’s our job as consumers of the media to educate ourselves surrounding issues we don’t understand before we make accusations.

dave
4 years 1 month ago

He prob has hundreds of victems

dave
4 years 1 month ago

And yes I do know him and he always bragged about cheating on his wife little did I know out read with children

Concerned
4 years 1 month ago

For clarification, a law was passed this year making it a felony for any teacher, aid, coach to have sexual relations with a student — even if they are over 16.

CONSENT
4 years 1 month ago

You’re exactly right. It is a felony based on the nature of the coach – student relationship Jon had with this 17 year old student. However the sexual relationship can not be charged as rape if she consented. Not questioning that his actions were illegal. Just explaining the definition of the term rape. A term with such power should not be used lightly.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

There is no statute of limitations for reporting crimes? Where are we? Bulgaria?

Concerned
4 years 1 month ago

I hear you. I just see some peole writing that the young lady consented so there is no crime. I believe any time a person has power/control/influence over another person as does a teacher or a coach, it is their responsibility to remain in control. I know this family and live near the community. It’s a shock. However, I have heard there will be more allegations–including some from when he apparently worked at another school district. Such a waste of a career and a life.

CONSENT
4 years 1 month ago

I completely agree! You couldn’t have said it better.

Sad
4 years 1 month ago

Its just upsetting his career and everything had to go away like this because of his dumb and horrible behavior. People are unbelievable today .

dave
4 years 1 month ago

3 more from miflin and 4 from Exeter on the way

KNOWHIM2
4 years 1 month ago

a lot of these girls are scared. they are scared of what the community is going to think of them. some of them have families that have no idea. the preliminary hearing will probably be sometime this fall. please keep these girls in your prayers and give them support. you have no idea what your support will mean to them as they stand up and face someone who was loved by most of the community. some have family and friends that will be just finding out about what happened to them after they hid it from everyone for several years. they are ashamed and embarrassed. Just please, keep the support coming.

Concerned
4 years 1 month ago

I understand. Though the shame is not theirs (it is his) it must be so difficult. I’m praying for all who have been victimized, all who have lost their innocence. It is my hope that the families, friends, and community will surround them with support and love. Some may say they were old enough to know what they were doing. But the truth is predators target the vulnerable. Blessings to all who have the courage to tell the truth and to confront injustice.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

Uh, the girls were scared? So Jonathan Bell FORCED them to have sex? I’d like to know whether these poor young things were virgins. At one time that was a very important factor in “rape” cases. But then again, this was CONSENSUAL sex and the charges should be thrown out.

R U nuts?
4 years 1 month ago

Did you even read the report on the 15 year old girl’s report? She had no idea what has happening. If you think it is okay for a 15 year old girl to have sex with someone that is over 18, then you are an idiot.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

A school should not hire a young person of the opposite sex to give swimming lessons. They are clad in bare attire and the coach must touch or hold the student to teach them. Both were young. The school is most at fault (they should have females teaching females and males teaching males – when I went to school it would have been unthinkable to have a male gym or swimming coach for girls and for good reason). A crucial point here, and one that the defense lawyer will argue, is why the girl did not report the alleged incident(s) sooner. Time is important in criminal cases and much time has passed since the first incident(s). I work in the legal field and know how the system works.

R U nuts?
4 years 1 month ago

You claim to be in the legal field. If true, then you would know better then to be calling the Reading Eagle since it is an active investigation. You do not live here. What the hell are you going to contribute? If the laws in France are better then the USA I suggest you move back, since you are no under American Law. I am also disgusted by those that feel the need to comment on this and obviously have not read any of the public information. Also recognize that you cannot hide behind any of these posts and you can legally be held accountable for what you post., as one poster found out earlier in the week.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

I did not “call” the Reading Eagle. I wrote a Letter to the Editor after seeing another Letter to the Editor regarding the case (in favor of Bell). I received a phone call from one of the editors and he told me to change a small part of my letter. He said he would publish it if I did. We then had a miscommunication over something minor – he said he left me a message and I didn’t respond and I told him that I don’t have an answering machine. I looked up this guy’s name (the editor) and he has a history of being unpleasant. I believe you were the one who mentioned my son and sports. Let me inform you that my son attended three different high schools in San Diego and there were no sports at two of them. One of them had as the gym teacher a 60 year old woman who did not wear a brassiere and did jumping jacks in front of the class.

R U nuts?
4 years 1 month ago

Okay we have a 15 year old girl who had no clue what Jon was doing when he had sex with her. We have a 17 yr old. We have Bells devastated family. We have his wife of 1 year as of the end of July equally devastated. We have 2 schools upset over this. We have Water Polo players and Swim team members who still are struggling that they were betrayed by their coach, and now we have you choosing to post that your son saw a 60 year old doing jumping jacks without a bra? WHY DO I WASTE MY TIME. Unlike you, I personally know Jon and his brother. I know his father-in-law. I also know the laws of PA. Jon knew the laws as well. Now Jon will see how those laws are enforced.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

If you personally know Jonathan Bell, YOU could get in trouble by revealing certain things. Sounds like you have a gripe with the family or personally know one or more of the “poor young things” who were victimized by this “sexual deviate.” It is said that today, more girls are the ones focused on sex than in the past, when it was usually men. Ah, women’s lib.

I predict either a light sentence or full vindication of Mr. Jonathan Bell when all facts are brought to light. Allan Sodomsky is a brilliant lawyer. One of his few failed cases was the Roseboro murder but that was a complicated and difficult case to defend. Sodomsky wrote a book about the case.

I have worked for five different lawyers in Reading, one in Boston and two in San Diego.
One of the latter handled high profile cases and I was privy to confidential information. I doubt that you know how the law works.

curious
4 years 1 month ago

I’m curious to know how his male students and athletes feel about him. Did he try to win their trust? Did he get close to them and make them feel better about themselves? Did he exchange phone numbers with them? Clearly he was grooming these girls so that they would trust him. Why would this charming man who listened to their problems and built up their self confidence have any intentions of hurting them? I’m sure he made them feel very special … making them easy victims and him a successful predator. As was said before, there should be no shame for the victims. He was an adult who abused his power and charm to manipulate and take advantage of his position of leadership. I second the sentiments of ‘CONCERNED.’

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

Why do you think there is always a female present in the room when a male doctor examines a female patient? Everybody’s out to file lawsuits. When I was examined in France during my pregnancy, it was only me and a male doctor. I laid on a slanting board. Only in the U.S. do these sick false accusations of sexual violation occur. Also, did the girl(s) in question use Jonathan Bell as a scapegoat when their parents found out that they were sexually active (with other guys)? Oh, blame it on Bell. I didn’t lose my virginity in the backseat of a car – Bell raped me. Also, in other countries, the female accuser’s character is taken into account.

Attn Board Moderator
4 years 1 month ago

This is an active criminal investigation. We should not have individuals like Marisa claiming to work in law, know the defense lawyers and then giving her opinions to an ACTIVE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION. There is no way a person who works in law would make these posts under their real name. I can only assume that someone is pretending to be Marisa to make her look like an idiot. Please forward the posts along with the emails, ISP, info etc to: E-MAIL: da@countyofberks.com I also suggest you block this person from posting on the site.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

I do not work in Berks County. I was an employee of a San Diego defense law firm which specialized in high-profile cases. I was entrusted with confidential information in very important cases which, to this day, I have never spoken about outside the office. I also worked in Boston handling cases. I took my opinions to the Reading Eagle regarding the Bell matter and they chose to publish it. (See first letter in today’s edition.) I believe that you and others who post here suffer from misandry.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.

knowhimalso
4 years 1 month ago

I met Jon Bell in College. We were on the swim team together. I initially looked up to him but then my better judgement cuaght up with me. Most of our mutual friends would sence something was off with him as well and we would often say how something like the crimes he aledgedly commited could one day happen. If only we could go back in time and report him then. To some it up I am not surprised this he is acused of this or that it started back in 2003.

dave
4 years 1 month ago

Marissa i’m excited to see the outcome of this case so we can all see what a moron you are jon has been victimizing females and children for years and when he gets to his new home he will be someones plaything now thats justice

Ignore
4 years 1 month ago

I am more concerned that a mother of a child believes that a 15 year old can consent to sex. For the protection of the child, that needs to be legally addressed.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

An investigation will be performed as to whether the girls were on the Pill, their medical histories will become evidence, whether they were sexually active prior to or during the alleged attacks – their characters can and will become an integral part of the trial (if it gets that far) by subpoenaing former boyfriends, etc. The law is very intricate. I worked for law firms in three states. I worked on many very interesting cases in San Diego. Some verdicts are shockers. One case in particular ended up with the defendants paying millions to the plaintiff who won only because he had ONE highly credible (lying) witness.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 1 month ago

It’s too bad that none of these girls felt they could go to their parents and tell them that they were being sexually abused by a teacher/coach. In Europe, sports are not included in school curriculums. Students must attend after-school clubs to participate in sports. I know. I lived there. People are more fit in Europe and most speak several languages. My son’s French half-sister swims, is a high diver, an equestrian, and may do other sports as well. She speaks four languages and has an M.B.A. The main conundrum here is why the “victims” did not go to their parents at the first alleged indecency by their coach. I think they will be pummeled in court by Atty. Sodomsky. It is interesting that the word “rape” was never mentioned. Correct me if I’m wrong. Also, the girls’ characters will/should be investigated. Were they loose morally or were they innocent virgins?

For me the main issue is that no coach, especially in swimming, should be of the opposite sex. And, the big mystery – why wait so long to report the alleged offenses? They will be questioned at length.

dave
4 years 29 days ago

The law says they have six years from their 21 birthday to report this do Marissa you truly are an idiot

Know him
4 years 29 days ago

Well said Dave. I ignored her when she said she worked for 5 different Lawyers in Reading then claimed to never have worked in Reading. She then runs on an on about how great the laws are in France. If they are so much better then why the hell does she not move back?

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 29 days ago

I worked at several Reading law firms, two in San Diego and one in Boston. Until Jonathan Bell has been proven guilty, by law he is innocent. Period. Did you read my letter in the Reading Eagle? http://readingeagle.com/mobile/article.aspx?id=411111

Know him
4 years 29 days ago

So you sign the letter Spring Township and do not live in Spring township?

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 29 days ago

I currently live in Spring Township. Moved here from Boston, moved there from Mission Valley in San Diego. Also lived in France and Belgium. What does that have to do with Jonathan Bell?

Know him
4 years 29 days ago

If you look at your entire thread your background story keeps changing. So it basically goes against the credibility of all your posts. I would also assume future employers will be doing internet searches on you prior to hire, and based on these numerous posts on this site, as well as others, good luck in finding a job.

Know him
4 years 29 days ago

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah says:
August 31, 2012 at 6:17 amI worked at several Reading law firms,

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah says:
August 26, 2012 at 6:45 pmI do not work in Berks County

Note:Reading is in Berks County

Marisa Rebuffe Lorah
4 years 28 days ago

Yes, I have worked at several Berks County law firms. I do not currently work anywhere. Is that a contradiction?

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