A former Conestoga High School teacher's aide and coach was charged Thursday with sexual assault and related offenses involving a 16-year-old student.
Christine Towers, 26, of Phoenixville, was arraigned Thursday on charges of institutional sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and corruption of minors. She was released on bail.
According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday by the Chester County District Attorney's Office, authorities received a child-abuse report from the county Department of Children, Youth and Families on Monday in which a person alleged that Towers was having a sexual relationship with the student.
When interviewed by a detective, the student said he was in a sexual relationship with Towers. He said he met her and began a personal relationship with her at Conestoga during the 2015-16 school year when she was tutoring him one-on-one, the complaint says.
In a statement, Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Superintendent Richard Gusick and Conestoga principal Amy Meisinger said Towers worked "as a paraeducator" at Conestoga from September 2014 through February 2016.
"When Ms. Towers was hired by the district, she had no prior criminal history record, and she resigned from all positions before the district was informed of any investigation or charges," the statement said. It is not clear why Towers resigned.
The criminal complaint alleges that at the time of the inappropriate contact, Towers was still a teacher's aide and athletic coach at Conestoga.
But Towers' attorney, Cary McClain, countered that "at the time of the law enforcement allegations, [Towers] was not a teacher's aide."
He said she was most recently assisting with the girls' softball team, but not as an employee. "She was contracted ... through a private contractor to assist with the team," he said. She resigned from that position this week, he said.
"Christine Towers is a good person, a hardworking person, and she maintains her innocence," McClain said.
According to the criminal complaint, the student told the detective that the relationship turned sexual on March 17 when Towers kissed him.
From then to Sunday, the two had unprotected sex four times, the student said. The student said Towers told him not to tell police about their relationship.
School authorities said Towers had coached eighth-grade girls' soccer and seventh- and eighth-grade track at Tredyffrin/Easttown Middle School in the 2014-15 school year. She then worked in the district's "extended school year program in the summer of 2015," the statement said.
This school year, Towers coached junior varsity girls' soccer, ninth-grade girls' basketball, and junior varsity girls' softball, all at Conestoga High School, the statement said.