Former Lower Dauphin social studies teacher accused of having inappropriate contact with student
HUMMELSTOWN, Dauphin County — A former social studies teacher and cross country coach at Lower Dauphin High School has been charged with indecent assault without consent of others relating to the alleged inappropriate contact he had with a former student while she was at the school, according to Hummelstown Police.
John Patrick Butler, 34, of Hummelstown, was charged Wednesday after a police investigation that began in November 2017.
Butler is the third teacher in the Lower Dauphin School District to be charged in alleged sexual matters since 2017.
In July 2017, English teacher James Kalos was one of two men charged with solicitation for child pornography, unlawful contact with minor, criminal use of communication facility, endangering welfare of children, corruption of minors and other offenses in an incident in Upper Allen Township.
In August, former elementary school teacher James Mentzer was charged after police say he had inappropriate contact with five students between September 2017 and February.
According to Hummelstown Police, the investigation of Butler began when outgoing Lower Dauphin School District superintendent Dr. Sherri Smith contacted the department on Nov. 15, 2017. Smith told police that the district had become aware of communication between Butler and the former student over the previous summer, and that Smith had uncovered additional information that may be criminal in nature.
Police interviewed the former student two days later at the Hummelstown Police Station. The victim confirmed Butler was her history teacher during her senior year. She said that in December 2016, she returned to school after suffering a mental breakdown, according to the criminal complaint. Butler allegedly approached the student and offered to listen if she ever need to talk, the criminal complaint said. The student told police she provided Butler with her cell phone number.
From that point on, the victim told police, she and Butler began talking frequently. The victim said over the next several months, she would visit Butler’s classroom if she was upset or angry and they would talk. In April 2017, the victim told police, she visited Butler after having a fight with her boyfriend. Butler closed the door to his room, which was unusual, the victim said. He then allegedly hugged her and kissed her on the cheek, the victim told police.
After kissing her, Butler allegedly told the victim not to tell her boyfriend, or that “would really (make him mad),” the victim told police.
The victim told police she did not think much of the kiss, other than that it was more than the hug they usually exchanged after talking.
The victim told police she visited Butler again a week later, and grew upset and began to cry while talking to him. Butler allegedly told her that she “was too pretty for this” and she “didn’t deserve it,” according to the criminal complaint. He then allegedly told the victim he had something to tell her, but once he said it, he “couldn’t take it back.”
When the victim told him to say it, the criminal complaint states, Butler instead stood up, picked up the victim by her arms, pushed her against the wall, and kissed her.
The victim told police she pulled her head back and told Butler, “Whoa, not OK.” Butler pulled away, began shaking, and said “this could ruin my life,” the victim told police.
The victim told Butler it was OK because she didn’t know what else to say, according to the criminal complaint.
The victim said from that point forward she began avoiding Butler, but a few weeks later, after things “calmed down,” they began talking again. Butler began to “flirt” with her, telling her she had a “nice butt,” the victim told police.
According to reports in the Hummelstown Sun, Butler continued to communicate with the student after she graduated from high school.
During the summer of 2017, the Sun reports, Butler exchanged private messages with the student via Twitter. The student provided the Sun with some of the messages, some of which were timestamped.
In a series of messages that were timestamped between June 20-28, 2017, Butler allegedly told the student “I love you” and “I want to rip your clothes off,” according to the Sun.
The Lower Dauphin School District issued the following statement Wednesday after the charges against Butler were filed:
“Lower Dauphin School District was made aware of allegations against Mr. Butler in early November 2017. Due to the nature of the allegations, he was placed on administrative leave at that time.
The District notified all appropriate agencies and cooperated fully with all investigative bodies. This cooperation continues through the present.
Mr. Butler resigned from his position at the high school effective November 27, 2017. He was hired as a social studies teacher at Lower Dauphin High School at the start of the 2009-10 school year.”