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Former Bethlehem, Pennsylvania school police officer charged with sexually assaulting student

Former Lehigh Valley school resource officer charged with sexual assault, Bethlehem police say
Former Lehigh Valley school resource officer charged with sexual assault, Bethlehem police say 02:14

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (CBS) -- A Lehigh Valley school resource police officer and soccer coach is accused of taking an inappropriate video of a young girl and having a sexual relationship with another girl.

Prosecutors allege 43-year-old Costas Nick Alestas had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student and recorded at least one upskirt video of an 11-year-old girl.

43-year-old Costas Nick Alestas   City of Bethlehem Police Department

Police said Alestas was a school resource officer for six years at East Hills Middle School in Bethlehem. He was also the school's co-ed soccer coach, according to court documents.

During a press conference Wednesday, police said they were notified by the Bethlehem Area School District of Alestas's alleged "inappropriate" relationship with a student on May 1. Alestas was immediately asked to leave the school and was placed on administrative leave.

Bethlehem police give update on school officer charged with inappropriate relationship with student 22:48

Through their investigation, they said the school resource officer had multiple sexual encounters both on and off school grounds with the 14-year-old girl. Police believe the relationship started in January of this year.

"The victim disclosed she had been involved in ongoing communication with Alestas while at school, including him providing her with his personal cellular telephone number," City of Bethlehem Police Department Capt. Nicholas Lechman said. "At one point, the victim's mother discovered text messages on her phone and when Alestas became aware of this, he began using a second phone number to communicate with the victim. The communication with Alestas included conversations about engaging in sexual acts. As the communication between Alestas and the victim continued, the interactions progressed into several encounters involving sexual contact between the two."

Lechman said one of the sexual encounters happened during a school dance while Alestas was on duty and in police uniform.

Through the investigation, court documents also allege at least one video was found on Alestas' phone showing up the skirt of an 11-year-old girl. They said the girl was identified by her parents.

"This video was taken without the victim's knowledge while she was walking in the hallway," Lechman said.

Alestas is charged with several offenses including statutory sexual assault, sexual contact with a student and invasion of privacy.

The school district declined further comment on the matter, though an updated statement dated Wednesday, May 15, was posted on their website:

"The Bethlehem Area School District became aware of allegations related to Officer Alestas on the afternoon of Monday, April 29, 2024, when a student shared information with their guidance counselor. The guidance counselor, as per District protocols, immediately informed school officials and contacted Childline to begin an investigation. The next day, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, the counselor also filed a CY47 Report with Northampton County Children and Youth to continue the investigation.

"On Wednesday, May 15, 2024, the District informed the Bethlehem Police Department of the reported allegations and the Children and Youth referral. The District and the Bethlehem Police Department worked in tandem to place Officer Alestas on administrative leave from both organizations. The District deactivated the Officer's access to all District resources. The District immediately shared all reported information with the Bethlehem Police Department's investigating officers."

An earlier statement posted on the BASD's website confirmed charges were forthcoming after the school and police began investigating an alleged relationship involving a resource officer and student, but did not initially identify Alestas. At the time, the school district said it "will provide counseling support as needed. The BASD remains committed to transparency and cooperation with all investigative and legal entities as it relates to this matter."

Court records show Alestas was unable to post bail and remains in the county jail. He is due back in court later this month.

"It's with a heavy heart that we're here," Northampton County District Attorney Stephen Baratta said at the press conference.

Baratta noted this is the second school resource officer in the county who was arrested and charged following an alleged inappropriate relationship with a student over the last several weeks.

The Northampton County Office of the District Attorney said in a release that John Smoke was arrested and charged last month after he allegedly "sent explicit photos to an underage student."

Smoke, they said, was a Palmer Township police officer and school resource officer at Easton Area High School at the time of the incident. He is due in court this week.

"We need to start talking about whether there's prophylactic measures," Baratta said Wednesday. "We can take as far as policy and procedures that can lessen opportunities for this kind of behavior."

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