A middle school physical education teacher and coach well-known in the Delaware County community as the father of a girl battling cancer has been arrested for allegedly having sex with a teenager.
William "Bill" Barber, who teaches and coaches football and baseball at Garnet Valley Middle School, is accused of having a sexual encounter with the 15-year-old at the school on Sept. 12, according to Pennsylvania State Police.
In a notice posted to the district’s website, Garnet Valley School District Superintendent Dr. Marc Bertrando said that Barber — a married father of a 4-year-old girl battling cancer — was suspended and asked Monday night to turn in his keys.
Barber, who began teaching at the school in 2002, was well-known in the district and community in large part because of his daughter’s battle against cancer.
“…Our community participated in a number of publicized charitable causes on her behalf,” Bertrando wrote. “We understand that these allegations are extremely troubling and will leave many feeling betrayed.”
Police say Barber met the now-high schooler when she attended Garnet Valley Middle School.
"This past summer they became in contact and started communicating via Twitter," said Pennsylvania State Police Corporal Gerard McShea.
McShea said the girl then sent Barber nude photos. An affidavit accuses Barber of writing to the girl, "wow you are a very sexy young lady" on Sept. 9. He then allegedly wrote to her, "you could have been here but it's all good. I shouldn't tempt myself anyway," on Sept. 11. The affidavit states Barber then wrote, "but your body makes me crazy," half an hour later.
Investigators say Barber and the girl then had a sexual encounter the next day in the coach's office.
"The school did everything they were supposed to," McShea said.
Bertrando said that students alerted staff Monday to rumors about a relationship going on between Barber and the student. After internally investigating, Bertrando said the district turned over the investigation to police. Investigators also say the victim told a guidance counselor about what happened.
“Our administrative team acted as quickly as we possibly could, and we have been focusing since then on putting plans in place to help our community move forward,” said Bertrando.
A judge arraigned Barber Tuesday on charges including statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, institutional sexual assault of a minor, corruption of minors and indecent assault of a minor, according to court records. After spending some hours behind bars, Barber got out after posting 10 percent of $250,000 bail. Court records did not list an attorney.
Crisis counselors will be at schools Wednesday morning to help students and staff with questions and concerns while trying to reassure students that they can trust adults.
“As we meet with students in the coming days and weeks, we hope to help them work through their concerns and reassure them that while this very popular, well-liked teacher certainly betrayed the community’s trust, there are many adults in their lives who can be trusted and relied upon,” said Bertrando. “It’s a difficult thing for anyone to experience, and we are very sorry this crisis has occurred in our community.”