Bethlehem, Pa. school resource officer accused of sexually assaulting student

Annie McCormick Image
Thursday, May 16, 2024
Pa. school resource officer accused of sexually assaulting student
Bethlehem, Pa. school resource officer accused of sexually assaulting student

BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A school resource officer who was employed by Bethlehem police is facing multiple charges all relating to alleged sexual offenses against two young girls.

Costas Alestas, 43, was fired by the police department where he worked as a school resource officer for six years.

Alestas was also assigned to East Hills Middle School, where he was a soccer coach and employed by the school district. The district announced he was placed on administrative leave.

Both students attend the school.

A school employee notified police on May 1 that Alestas allegedly groomed a 14-year-old student.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, he told the victim that "he found her attractive and that he has strong romantic feelings for her."

Police say the sexual encounters occurred on and off school grounds.

The affidavit states that Alestas and the victim would kiss in his office.

His texts with the girl were discovered by her mother in February, but he found other ways to communicate with the teen.

Bethlehem Police Chief Michelle Kott stated the parent who made the discovery may not have known who the sender was.

"There was deceptive behavior trying to mask who the text messages were from," said Kott.

Police say Alestas had a sexual encounter with the same student during a school dance at the school.

"One of the incidents occurred at the school was at a school dance while Alestas was on duty and in a police uniform," said Capt Nicholas Lechman, of Bethlehem police during an afternoon press conference.

Police say Alestas faces charges, including statutory sexual assault, institutional sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and other related offenses.

While authorities investigated the first case, they found a disturbing video of an 11-year-old student on Alestas' phone.

Captain Lechman said the video was taken during school hours inside the middle school.

"It depicted a second victim's private area, on the victim's outer clothing. It was taken without the victim's knowledge," explained Lechman.

Police describe that video as an "upskirt video." They fear there may be more victims and say the investigation is ongoing.

Late Wednesday The Bethlehem Area School District released this statement:

"The Bethlehem Area School District became aware of allegations related to Officer Alestas on the afternoon of Monday, April 29, 2024, when a student shared information with their guidance counselor. The guidance counselor, as per District protocols, immediately informed school officials, and contacted Childline to begin an investigation. The next day, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, the counselor also filed a CY47 Report with Northampton County Children and Youth to continue the investigation.

On Wednesday, May 1, 2024, the District informed the Bethlehem Police Department of the reported allegations and the Children and Youth referral. The District and the Bethlehem Police Department worked in tandem to place Officer Alestas on administrative leave from both organizations. The District deactivated the Officer's access to all District resources. The District immediately shared all reported information with the Bethlehem Police Department's investigating officers."