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Former Pittston Area Teacher Charged With Having Inappropriate Relationship With Student

September 13, 2016

PLAINS TWP. — A former Pittston Area teacher had a romantic relationship with a 17-year-old female student, police said.

Police have filed charges against Colleen McGarry, a Pittston Area teacher who was suspended earlier this year, alleging the 45-year-old woman had a romantic relationship with an underage student.

She was arrested Tuesday morning and brought before Magisterial District Judge Joseph Spagnuolo for arraignment.

McGarry is charged with institutional sexual assault, corruption of a minor, furnishing alcohol to a minor and unlawful contact with a minor.

Police said contact between McGarry and the victim began in 2015 when McGarry was the victim’s calculus teacher at Pittston Area. During an interview with police, McGarry said she had taken the student “under her wing,” and had personal conversations with her during school and outside of class.

Arrest papers state McGarry later started communicating with the alleged victim through text messages, police said. McGarry said she discussed her sexual orientation with the student and the girl told her she had a “crush” on McGarry.

McGarry said the teen tried to kiss her after admitting her crush. When police asked McGarry about a physical relationship between her and the girl, McGarry said they kissed “in a car” several times during December 2015.

Police said physical contact progressed when McGarry stayed at the alleged victim’s house for three nights while her father was on vacation. McGarry told police she “spent the night” there in January. She told police she and the teen went to the girl’s bedroom, undressed partially and “made out.”

McGarry also told police she had taken the victim out to dinner but “didn’t think of it in a dating sense.”

The teen corroborated McGarry’s statements and told police McGarry had also purchased liquor for a party at the girl’s house that several underage students attended.

McGarry was fired from her job as a math teacher at Pittston Area High School in May.

At an arraignment Tuesday morning, Spagnuolo set McGarry’s bail at $100,000 and said if McGarry is able to post bail, she cannot have any contact with the victim or anyone under the age of 18.

“You are not to frequent any location where children are located,” Spagnuolo said.

McGarry was unable to post bail Tuesday and was taken to Luzerne County prison. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sept. 21 at 8:45 a.m. before Spagnuolo.

sscinto@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2048, @sscintoCV