Tobyhanna, Monroe County - A 40 year old teacher is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy. Christopher Martinelli is a Social Studies Teacher at Pocono Mountain West High School. The sexual relationship allegedly started in the summer of 2011. The boy is now 17.
Pocono Mountain Regional Police are concerned Martinelli may have used community service to get close to teenage boys. "It seems like he put himself in an environment to be surrounded by adolescents," said Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis.
Midge McClosky got the news Wednesday morning. She worked with him at the Shawnee Playhouse where he acted in several shows. She reacted, "I felt like I was punched in the stomach." She added, "All of my relationships here with him at the theater have all been very professional. He's very nice."
Chief Lewis said officers searched Martinelli's home in Tobyhanna and found evidence of a relationship with the teen. He added, "There is additional evidence, which I won't discuss, which makes us believe that there is more kids involved."
Martinelli had many opportunities to contact kids. He served as a coach for the Pocono Mountain Outlaws Baseball team. He volunteered with Boy Scouts. He coached golf. He worked with a youth basketball program and participated in community theater.
McClosky said she is sure he didn't harm any kids when he acted at the Shawnee Playhouse because he didn't perform in shows with kids. Plus the playhouse has safeguards in place. She explained, "We have special standards of operation that require that there is more than one adult with the children at all times. They're never alone."
Students reacted on social media sites. Many expressed shock and disbelief. Some called the charges outright lies.
Police say parents need to talk to their kids about this case and make sure they are not victims. Lewis said, "If there are other kids that were victimized we need to find out who they are and give them the justice that they deserve."
Martinelli is in jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.
If you have any information on this case call police at 570-895-2400.
For more information on the Martinelli's charges visit http://pahomepage.com/fulltext?nxd_id=322972