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A Pennsylvania English teacher is charged institutional sexual assault for allegedly having sex five times in the past week with an 18-year-old male student.
Lauren Harrington-Cooper, 31, from Plymouth, Pa., is an instructor at Wyoming Valley West High School.
She’s accused of performing oral sex on the senior three times and having intercourse with him twice.
A probable-cause affidavit indicates the sister of the alleged victim told her brother that Harrington-Cooper said he was “hot” on Dec. 13. The sister subsequently gave him the teacher’s phone number.
Harrington-Cooper and the student began texting each other later that day and agreed to “hang out.” She began to pick him up in front of his house or around the corner.
The parents of the alleged victim discovered their son had a “sexually explicit conversation” with a teacher after he borrowed his mother’s laptop and used the free texting website Pinger.
The affidavit also says the teacher admitted she knew the alleged victim was a senior at the school in Plymouth and admitted to picking him up and driving around with him.
She told authorities she had intercourse with him twice in her vehicle and oral sex with him once in her vehicle.
Harrington-Cooper was arraigned Thursday night before Magisterial District Judge Martin Kane and released after the judge set an unsecured bail amount of $25,000.
Because the student is 18, the teacher was not charged with statutory sexual assault or corruption of minors.
Assistant District Attorney Jenny Roberts told the Scranton Times-Tribune that a victim must be under 16 for statutory sexual assault and under 18 for corruption of minors. The age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16, and a defendant charged with statutory sexual assault must be four or more years older than the victim.
Roberts added institutional sexual assault is a third-degree felony. Certain employees of specific institutions, such as school employees and volunteers, can be charged with the crime if they have sex or indecent contact with wards of the institutions or students at the school. The charge can result in a prison sentence of seven years.
According to a report in the Citizens’ Voice, the teacher and her husband, Raphael Cooper, founded the Cooper Dance Academy in Kingston, Pa., in August 2012.
Their Facebook page posted an urgent message Dec. 19 stating: “Due to a family emergency we must cancel classes for tonight! Please excuse this as we truly apologize for this abrupt cancellation!”
A follow-up message noted: “After the holiday, I, Raphael Cooper will address all of the members of our studio as to our future. Please keep everyone in our family in your prayers as we confront the days ahead.”
The page is filled with messages of support for the Coopers, including one from Dolores Hughes, who said: “Praying for both of you. Stay strong keep your head up. You are both wonderful people. Good luck with everything.”
See the WND story that started it all: The big list: Female teachers with students