Valley High School teacher accused of sending inappropriate texts to another student

·3 min read

May 7—New Kensington police have filed additional charges against a New Kensington-Arnold School District music teacher who was accused last week of sending sexual text messages to a student.

Police charged Sean Timothy O'Neil, 34, of Vandergrift, with corruption of minors and harassment in the latest case.

In a criminal complaint filed Wednesday, police said they were told April 30 that O'Neil made inappropriate comments in text messages and in person to a Valley Junior-Senior High School student in 2020.

Police said O'Neil also sent messages to the girl this year pretending to be someone else after she had blocked his number.

Police said they received the latest report the day after the Tribune-Review reported last week on the original charges against O'Neil. In that case, police said another Valley student told them O'Neil had sent her text messages of a sexual nature in September 2020.

Police did not indicate if news reports of the charges had prompted the second report.

New Kensington-Arnold Acting Superintendent Jon Banko would not provide specifics Thursday regarding O'Neil's employment status with the district. The Tribune-Review has filed a Right-to-Know request for the information.

The school board "has not taken action on his situation," Banko said Thursday.

Previously, Banko said O'Neil was no longer in the classroom.

The latest criminal complaint said the alleged victim told police that students and chaperones, including O'Neil, exchanged phone numbers last year about a week before a school-sanctioned band trip to New York City. Starting around March 2020, she said text messages between herself and O'Neil did not seem inappropriate to her.

Police said the girl told them that O'Neil began texting her from a different number one to two months later, and the comments became more personal in nature and dealt with sexual topics.

The girl told police that after O'Neil asked her a sexual question during an in-person conversation in his office in March 2020, she left the office feeling uncomfortable, the complaint said.

That night, the complaint said, O'Neil sent a text message to the girl's stepmother asking if the girl was OK because she did not seem right to him.

In a separate incident, the complaint said, police said the girl told them that O'Neil had also asked her to send him a picture of herself in underwear.

The girl got a new phone around Christmas and blocked O'Neil's number, according to the complaint.

In reviewing data from O'Neil's phone, police said they discovered that between March 17 and April 12 of this year O'Neil had sent messages to the girl using a messaging application and the name "Kelly" — a person he claimed would help her with college scholarships.

The complaint said O'Neil gave her the contact, but she didn't know she was actually communicating with him.

O'Neil's listed attorney, Brian Aston, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

O'Neil is scheduled for preliminary hearings on both sets of charges May 13 before District Judge Frank J. Pallone Jr. He was previously released after posting $2,000, or 10%, of a $20,000 bail.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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