By Libby Rosequist
A former teacher’s aide in Earle C. Davis Primary School in the North East School District has been charged with having a sexual relationship with a boy under the age of 18.
State police filed charges against Alicia Ann Gates, 44 of North East, with two third-degree felonies after she allegedly had an intimate relationship with an underage boy for about seven months.
Gates was arraigned Monday, Jan. 27, at District Judge Scott Hammer’s office in North East Township on charges of institutional sexual assault with a student and corruption of minors. She was released after posting the $250,000 unsecured bond, according to court records.
According to the state police’s criminal complaint filed with the affidavit of probable cause, Gates is accused of having a sexual relationship with the victim at multiple locations, including her residence and a private residence on Oxbow Road in North East Township. The allegations involve multiple incidents that took place between June 1 and Jan. 7, state police said.
The investigation was initiated by the victim’s father, who had been informed by the victim’s sister, of the nature of his relationship with Gates.
During an interview with the victim on Jan. 7, he related it first started out with the accused giving him relationship advice concerning her daughter, whom he began dating in June of 2019. The victim stated in November 2019 they began touching, kissing and “sexting” via Snapchat.
The victim also stated he began sneaking out of his house and they would perform sexual acts at a private residence and alluded to three incidents of sexual intercourse that were planned in advance, according to the criminal complaint in the affidavit.
Toward the end of the relationship, the victim’s father took his cellphone and in mid-December, the accused gave the victim another cellphone to continue communication, the affidavit states.
Based on the interview with the victim and other evidence, including messages, phone calls and
Gate’s admission to inappropriate relationship on Jan. 13, charges were filed against Gates on Monday, Jan. 27.
Gates is no longer employed as a teacher’s aide in the North East School District. Dr. Michele Hartzell, superintendent of North East School District, released a statement on Tuesday, Jan. 28, confirming Gates was no longer employed at the school.
“The safety of our students and staff is our number one priority,” Hartzell said. “The district cannot comment on personnel or student matters; however, we can confirm that the individual is no longer an employee of the district. The families involved will be in our thoughts and the district, when contacted, will fully cooperate with law enforcement.”
Hartzell gave the North East News-Journal a timeline of Gates’ final days of employment at the school district.
“The last day the employee was on the school district campus was Jan. 13, 2020. The employee mailed a letter of resignation dated Jan. 16, 2020, which was received by the school district on Jan. 22, 2020; however, the district received information concerning the matter on Jan. 21, 2020. The school district immediately held a Special meeting of the school board on Jan. 24, 2020, and accepted the resignation effective Jan. 16, 2020. The school district was not, and has not been contacted by authorities in regard to this matter. The school district learned about the charges concerning this employee on Jan. 27, 2020, from the court. The recent Code Red incident at the school district is unrelated to this matter. We are unable to provide any additional information on this matter,” said Hartzell in an email.
Hartzell went on to emphasize that measures have been taken by the district to ensure student’s safety.
“This is a very difficult situation for our community. Our priority is the health and well-being of our students and staff. The administration, teachers, and staff are monitoring our students and will take appropriate action as required under all circumstances. Our counselors and student assistant teams will provide comfort, care, and advice to any student as necessary. Additionally, the school district has resources available for the staff as well, if needed,” said Hartzell.
Calls to Pennsylvania State Police were not returned as of press time.
Gates’ preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2020.