Ex-school director charged for sexting with teen boy
Nov 08, 2012 (The Citizens' Voice - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Authorities arrested a former Scranton school director on Wednesday after learning he was allegedly sexting a teenage boy.
The charges against Mark Kandel, 52, of the Peckville section of Blakely, mark the second time in about four years that he has come under legal scrutiny over his communication with teenage boys. Kandel is the husband of WNEP news anchor Marisa Burke.
Kandel's arrest on Wednesday stemmed from a series of text messages he exchanged with a 17-year-old boy, according to Lackawanna County detectives.
The Citizens' Voice does not identify the victims of sexual abuse.
The victim contacted the Lackawanna County District Attorney's office Nov. 1 and reported that Kandel had sent him "perverted" text messages including one that allegedly included a picture of Kandel wearing compression underwear.
Over the course of an investigation that included a search of Kandel's Blythe Drive home on Monday, investigators learned that he had met the victim through mutual friends and offered to help him with schoolwork.
When the juvenile took him up on the offer and asked for help with a college essay, the two began communicating via text messages that "first appeared harmless in nature," investigators said. Soon, though, the communication took a sexual turn and at one point, as the juvenile told investigators, an offer to exchange nude photos of the teen for "money or other favors" arose.
Kandel also told the victim several times that he wanted to meet him for what the victim believed would have been sexual encounters.
Kandel had advised the teen to delete all of their text messages, which he did not.
When investigators looked through the victim's phone they found about 900 text messages in the month of October alone, several of which consisted of Kandel asking the teen about his choice in underwear, his pubic grooming habits and the size of his penis -- which Kandel asked him to measure.
"Double check for ya when ya come over," he offered in one text, investigators said.
Kandel and the teen also discussed the latter providing sexual pictures of himself on a disc or memory card for Kandel.
After seizing his cellphone and several computer items from Kandel's home on Monday, investigators questioned him about his relationship with the boy.
He admitted that he does "engage in sexual communications with teenage boys" both younger and older than 18 via Facebook and text messaging and "considers himself a mentor" to teenage boys.
Asked to describe his mindset during the text conversations in question, Kandel "acknowledged that he becomes overwhelmed with sexual feelings," investigators said.
On Wednesday, Lackawanna County Detectives Chris Kolcharno and Justin Leri along with Blakely Police Chief Guy Salerno took Kandel into custody on one count each of criminal solicitation and communication with a minor -- sexual abuse.
Though the charges against Kandel only account for the one victim, the affidavit supporting those charges lays out a pattern of behavior Kandel perpetrated on other teenage boys as well.
The "scheme" started with texts in which Kandel would tell teen boys that they would look sexually attractive in Calvin Klein underwear.
Kandel would even go so far as to take teenage boys on shopping trips during which he would buy them Calvin Klein underwear and compression shorts.
Investigators believed Kandel considered himself a "life coach" for the teens.
Kandel's arrest on Wednesday came about four years after authorities launched an investigation into Kandel in the summer of 2008 over allegations that he sent lewd text messages to a 17-year-old boy.
Investigators later discovered that Kandel provided alcohol to teens at a party in his home and ultimately charged him with one count of furnishing to minors, for which he served 90 days of house arrest and nine months on probation.
Arraignment and preliminary hearing information were unavailable Wednesday night. Kandel was in Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $20,000 bail.
email@example.com, @domalleyttHusband of WNEP anchor Marisa Burke
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