Teacher arrested for relationship with student

A suburban high-school teacher was arrested last week after he admitted to carrying on an affair with an underage male student.

Curtis Harold Key, 38, turned himself in to Haverford police Jan. 29 and is charged with one count of corruption of a minor, a misdemeanor charge.

Pennsylvania’s statutory-rape law applies only to minors under age 16; the student was 16 at the time of the relationship.

If convicted, Key could face up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000, although Delaware County Deputy District Attorney Michael Galantino said a judge could lessen the penalties because Key has no prior arrests.

The former language teacher from Haverford High School resigned from his teaching position in December after the Haverford School District and police began an investigation into his relationship with a 16-year-old student.

During interviews with police before his arrest, Key said that while he knew his relationship with the boy was wrong, he “fell for” him.

Key and the student allegedly began a relationship after spending time together during an after-school Chinese club that Key moderated.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, the student, who has since turned 17, told Key that he “had feelings” for him in early October, the teacher concurred, and the two began exchanging messages via online networking site Facebook. On Oct. 17, Key walked the student to his car after both attended a music event after school, and the two kissed. They then made arrangements to meet at Key’s house in Wayne.

Galantino said Key told police the pair performed sex acts twice while at his house, but the student alleged that sexual contact occurred more frequently, about once every two weeks from October to December.

“There was some difference between the two regarding the extent of the sexual relationship,” Galantino said. “The defendant admitted they had sexual contact on two occasions, but the boy described it more frequently than that.”

The student confessed the relationship to a friend, who shared the information with another student during a conversation that was overheard by a teacher.

The teacher contacted the school district, which launched an investigation Dec. 16. After interviewing the student and his parents, district officials referred the family to police, who began their own investigation the same day. The district suspended Key the same day, and he resigned Dec. 18.

During the investigation, detectives obtained messages Key sent to the student via Facebook detailing his feelings about him.

According to the affidavit, the student’s parents were upset “not only that a much older man had secretly engaged in this relationship with their juvenile son, but that the man was a teacher who they entrusted with their son’s care.”

Galantino noted that the sexual relationship was consensual.

When detectives visited Key at his home Dec. 16, he provided them a written statement in which he acknowledged wrongdoing and said he exercised poor judgment.

“I know that I should not have been involved, but the attention he gave me made me overlook the inappropriateness, naively,” Key wrote. “I in no way want to do any harm to [the student] and only wish him the best and certainly should have made a wiser decision.”

Police confiscated the student’s computer and a school district computer for analysis.

After he was arraigned last week, Key waived his right to a preliminary hearing, and Haverford Township District Judge Robert Burke set bail at $5,000, which Key met, under the condition that he is to have no contact with the student, his family or any minors. Key is also barred from using the Internet and was placed on home monitoring.

Key’s attorney, Joseph Chupein, said he and his client are “looking forward to a prompt resolution of the case.”

Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].