Suspended Williamsport District teacher held on sex counts

The two alleged victims of Kelli Vassallo, a suspended Williamsport Area School District teacher and former Loyalsock Township Middle School girls basketball coach who faces serious charges for allegedly having sexual relations with them while minors, testified during her crowded preliminary hearing in court Monday.

Vassallo, 36, of 1346 Lafayette Parkway, was arraigned by District Judge Gary A. Whiteman on felony charges of aggravated indecent assault, institutional sexual assault, corrupting the morals of a minor, illegal use of a communication device and one misdemeanor count of indecent assault in early December, according to court documents.

State police allege that Vassallo had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl in 2013 and 2014.

The girl, now 16, testified that it all began when she approached her coach, Vassallo, to help her with a personal problem.

The two would watch TV together and occasionally would car-pool from school and to practice, she testified.

Things progressed when Vassallo told her she had feelings for her and eventually led to overt sexual acts.

“She kissed me … I was confused,” she said.

Because the girl still is a minor, those not related to her or the defendant were asked to leave the courtroom during her testimony.

The girl went against what Vassallo told her and shared what had been going on with another teacher in May, she said.

Days after the first alleged victim talked to state police, a second alleged victim came out with a similar story.

The woman, now 24, told police that Vassallo molested her many times when she was 17 years old and a student at Loyalsock Township High School.

Vassallo and the woman communicated not only through text and Facebook messages, but through a landline phone as well, she said during her testimony.

“We talked about our feelings … how we felt towards one another,” she said.

There was dispute over two charges brought against Vassallo before the hearing ended in Whiteman’s courtroom.

“The institutional sexual assault charge doesn’t apply because there was no evidence that she was an employee or volunteer at the school where one of the victims was a student,” Vassallo’s attorney said. “There was testimony presented that she was a teacher in Williamsport … the victim was from Loyalsock.”

According to Vassallo’s attorney, there also was no indication during testimony that a phone was used to set up a meeting between Vassallo and one of her alleged victims for a crime –  which would rule out the illegal use of a communication device, he said.

“The testimony was basically saying that they had talked about feelings and that it was no evidence that it was used to commit a crime,” he said.

Because Vassallo was a coach at the school district and the fact that the victim was a student of the township is strong enough to sustain the charge, Assistant District Attorney A. Melissa Kalaus said.

Whiteman ruled that all charges would stay and that Vassallo be held for court.

Vassallo remains free on the $50,000 bail.