Former North Montco Technical Career Center teacher goes to jail for sexting students | Local News
NORRISTOWN – A former substitute teacher at the North Montco Technical Career Center in Towamencin has been sentenced to some time behind bars and a long probationary period for sexting with female students through the social network app Snapchat.
Stephen Andrew Catania, 30, of the first block of North School Lane in Souderton, was sentenced by Montgomery County Court to 11.5 to 23 months in the county jail, followed by five years probation in link to incidents in 2019. The sentence means that Catania will be under judicial supervision for around seven years.
The sentence was handed down by judge Thomas C. Branca, who, in a trial without a jury earlier this year, convicted Catania of criminal solicitation for child pornography and bribery of minors. The judge acquitted Catania of charges of illegal contact with a minor and harassment.
Deputy District Attorney Caroline Goldstein has called for a prison sentence against Catania.
“He was a teacher and these students admired him. He was a mentor. They trusted him and instead he abused their trust and victimized them, ”Goldstein said. “He benefited from his role as a mentor and a teacher, so the prison sentence was appropriate and certainly justified. Thanks to this conviction, he will never have the opportunity to teach again.
The judge said Catania was eligible for the out-of-prison program during his period of incarceration. Catania received credit for the time he had already spent in prison from April to July 2019 while awaiting legal action on the charges.
Catania, who will be under the supervision of a sex offender while on parole and probation, must comply with all recommendations arising from a psychosexual assessment. Catania will also have to report his address to state police for 25 years after he is released in order to comply with the state’s law on recording and reporting sex offenders.
The judge ordered Catania to have no contact with the victims.
Goldstein called the victims “brave” for coming forward and reporting Catania’s conduct.
The investigation began in January 2019 when the Towamencin police responded to the career center in Sumneytown Pike with a report of inappropriate communication on social media between a teacher, Catania, and a 17-year-old student, according to the criminal complaint filed. by the detective of the canton of Towamencin Jamie Pierluisse. The girl told police that she had received messages from Catania on Snapchat. At the time, Catania was the long-term substitute teacher of diesel technology.
The messages began as a conversation about the student needing repairs to her vehicle, before Catania changed the subject and told her he could help her find the right person, according to court documents.
“I think you’re a really lovely girl with great intentions and a body that will make it hard for you to find another equal,” Catania said to the girl, then added, “Do you have a crush on me? or not?” according to the affidavit of arrest. Catania then added: “You have a beautiful [expletive] figure ”and“ Send a photo of your underwear ”.
“(The girl) reported telling Catania during this conversation that what he was doing was illegal. He responded by asking her not to tell anyone,” Pierluisse said in the criminal complaint.
A search warrant was issued in late January for recordings linked to the Snapchat username, and recordings were subsequently provided confirming the conversation took place, police said.
During the ongoing investigation in early March, a second 17-year-old student told her teacher and then the police that she received messages with the same Snapchat username, which she then identified as Catania, police said.
This student told police she posted on her personal Snapchat account in the summer of 2018, when the student was 16, and received a private message from Catania’s username asking her a photo of her in a bikini, according to court papers. Catania later asked the girl if she wanted to “earn $ 100 easily” by sending the photographs, adding that they would be “just between me and you”, according to court documents.
At the end of January 2019, Catania contacted the girl and told her to “delete everything”, their online conversations and their test messages, and she did, police said. He then contacted her with a different Snapchat username in late February or early March 2019, police said.
In April 2019, a third young woman reported to police that she too had received text messages from Catania when he asked her for photographs in exchange for money, court documents show. Catania asked the girl to “flash me”, allegedly asking her to expose herself and the girl declined the request, police said.
Police interviewed Catania in mid-January 2019 and asked if he had an active Snapchat account, and Catania told police he had one but deleted it two days earlier.
Detectives then informed Catania of an investigation into inappropriate messages with a student, and Catania named the first female underage, then denied any inappropriate communication, but later said he recalled asking for photos of her, according to the affidavit of arrest.
At the time of Catania’s investigation and arrest, school administrators said they fully cooperated with law enforcement and contacted the police in January 2019 after a student reported the information. In a statement, school officials said, “The safety of our students and staff is of the utmost importance at the North Montco Technical Career Center. Staff and students are commended for reporting and taking action on this serious issue. “
Catania is said to have resigned from the school during the investigation.