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Saturday, May 27, 2023

The Lauren Harrington-Cooper Student Sex Case

     In 2013, 31-year-old Lauren Harrington-Cooper earned $45,075 a year as an English teacher and lunch room monitor at Wyoming Valley West High School in Plymouth, Pennsylvania. She and her husband Raphael resided in nearby Kingston, a suburban community across the Susquehanna River from Wiles-Barre in the northeastern part of the state.

     In August 2012, Harrington-Cooper and Raphael started the Cooper Dance Academy that offered instruction in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, ballroom and Zumba dancing. She also held a position as adjunct professor at Misericordia University, a four-year Catholic school in the town of Dallas not far from Wilkes-Barre.

     On December 12, 2013, the parents of an 18-year-old Wyoming Valley West senior informed the school's principal of sexually explicit text messages sent by Harrington-Cooper to their son. When questioned by his parents and the police, the student said his English teacher, during the past week, had performed oral sex on him three times. He also claimed to have engaged in sexual intercourse with her twice.

     Harrington-Cooper, when interviewed by detectives admitted picking up the student and driving around with him before they had sex in her vehicle.

     Plymouth police officers and Luzerne County detectives booked Harrington-Cooper into the county jail on December 18, 2013 on the charge of institutional sexual assault. (In Pennsylvania, a teacher who has sex with a student over 18 can be charged with this third-degree felony. A teacher who has sex with a student younger than 16 can be charged with statutory rape. If the victim is between 16 and 18, the appropriate charge is corrupting a minor.) If convicted of institutional sexual assault, Harrington-Cooper could be imprisoned up to seven years. Shortly after her arrest the judge released the suspect on $25,000 bond.

     Police arrested the English teacher again on January 9, 2014 on charges of corrupting a minor. According to the criminal complaint, Harrington-Cooper, in October and November of 2013, had performed oral sex on a 17-year-old student. The relationship had allegedly started after Harrington-Cooper told one of her female students that she thought the boy was good looking. The male student responded by leaving the teacher a note that included his cell phone number. Following her arrest on this charge the judge released the suspect on another $25,000.

     On January 22, 2014, Lauren Harrington-Cooper resigned from her Wyoming Valley West teaching job. Six days later police officers took her into custody again. This time the criminal allegations involved two boys, one 16 and the other 17. The teacher, in October, November and December 2013, after meeting the 16-year-old boy at a shopping center, allegedly kissed and rubbed against him in her car. She also showed him the butterfly tattoo on her breast.

     The 16-year-old student told detectives that he had taken English from Harrington-Cooper in seventh grade then had her again when he was a junior. Because they were carrying on in a public place he felt uncomfortable. She allegedly informed him that she was having trouble in her marriage.

     Later on the teacher asked both boys to delete the sexually explicit text messages she had sent them, noting that they would soon be questioned by the police.

     In the case involving the 16-year-old, the Luzerne County prosecutor charged Harrington-Cooper with unlawful sexual contact. The judge released her on $50,000 bail. She pleaded not guilty to all charges.

     On March 21, 2014, an attorney from Scranton, Pennsylvania named Susan L. Luckenell informed the Wyoming Valley West School District of her intent, on behalf of the 16-year-old boy, to sue the district and the former English teacher for allowing the teen to become a "victim of sexual abuse." According to the attorney, her client had been damaged and injured as a result of the sexual experience with the adult teacher.

     In response to Luckenell's expression of intent to sue, the school district solicitor said, "I don't see where the district was negligent in any way."

     Lauren Harrington-Cooper, free on bail, awaited her trial on the sex offense charges. According to reports, following her first arrest, she tried to kill herself. There were no reports regarding the status of her marriage.

     In November 2014, Harrington-Cooper pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual contact with students, and two counts of corrupting minors. The judge sentenced the former teacher to 23 months in prison.

     In August 2015, after serving eleven months of her sentence Harrington-Cooper was released from prison. The law required that she register as a sex offender.

2 comments:

  1. This seems to be a growing trend: female teachers carrying on with their students. Wonder why?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Blame the internet and technology

    ReplyDelete