Former Pine Hill teacher, councilman sentenced for child endangerment

Posted: July 20, 2014

Charles Reilly was a middle school art teacher and two-term councilman in Pine Hill, a trusted figure in the borough of nearly 11,000 residents.

So when a 14-year-old boy told police that Reilly - his favorite teacher - had talked to him in a sexually inappropriate manner, there was backlash.

Some residents accused the boy of lying. Online "trolls," as his parents called them, later did the same.

But as other students came forward, Reilly's facade of trust began to crumble.

On Friday, when he was sentenced to 15 years in state prison on charges of official misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child.

Prosecutors said Reilly had inappropriate sexual conversations with 17 students from 2006 to 2011. His victims, most male students, were ages 12 to 16.

Among Reilly's requests, prosecutors said, was asking a student to create an art project using the student's own semen-stained tissues.

In court Friday, the parents of two victims criticized Reilly, who displayed little emotion as he listened in a striped polo tucked into blue jeans.

"He is a coward," one mother said, in a statement read by a court official.

"My son was betrayed by someone we all trusted in the community," said another Pine Hill mother, whose son, the 14-year-old boy, was one of the first victims to come forward.

Now 17, her son sat in the second row of the courtroom, appearing composed. He has trouble trusting other teachers, his mother told the court.

Afterward, in an interview, she called her son a hero, a term he deflected.

"I'm just glad that I have closure," he said.

In court, the prosecution and defense debated whether Reilly knew his actions would cause serious harm. Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Testa said Reilly had received therapy as a child. Reilly's defense lawyer later said it was for an unfortunate childhood experience that may have contributed to his actions in Pine Hill.

"He knows what that did to him later in life," Testa said. "He had to know."

Judge Frederick J. Schuck concluded that Reilly - who has a college education and served in the Navy - should have known better.

"There are some actions for which apologies never suffice," Reilly's lawyer, Robert Agre, said. "Mr. Reilly, through me, expresses remorse for the impact of his conduct."

Reilly, a balding man with a moustache, began teaching at Pine Hill Middle School in 2001 and coached track and soccer at Overbrook High School. He was in his second three-year council term when he was charged, and later resigned.

The school district suspended him with pay in March 2011 and then without pay in February 2013, shortly after he was indicted. Superintendent Kenneth P. Koczur did not return a call Friday.

Authorities said they found child pornography on Reilly's home computer that had been downloaded and did not depict the students. They said Reilly also engaged in explicit chats on Facebook with an undercover officer posing as an adolescent boy.

During the sentencing, Reilly spoke little, other than when the judge questioned him on where he had been since he was suspended from teaching. Reilly said he worked as a security guard and was making less than $8,000 a year.

"I do not own a home," Reilly said. "I live with relatives."

Soon, after the sentence, court officers handcuffed Reilly.

The mother whose son first came forward watched, next to her son. Now she was smiling.

856-779-3829 @borenmc

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