Former Scranton school director charged for sexting minor
Nov 07, 2012 (The Times-Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Authorities arrested a former Scranton school director on Wednesday after learning he sent text messages of a sexual nature to a teenage boy.
The charges against Mark Kandel, 52, 5 Blythe Drive, Peckville, mark the second time in about four years that he has come under legal scrutiny over his communication with teenage boys.
Mr. 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 Times-Tribune does not identify the victims of sexual abuse.
The victim contacted the Lackawanna County District Attorney's office on Nov. 1 and reported that Mr. Kandel had sent him "perverted" text messages including one that allegedly included a picture of Mr. Kandel wearing compression underwear.
Over the course of an investigation that included a search of Mr. Kandel's Blythe Drive home on Monday, investigators learned that he had met the victim through mutual friends and offered to help him with school work.
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.
Mr. Kandel also told the victim several times that he wanted to meet him for what the victim believed would have been sexual encounters.
Mr. Kandel had advised the teen to delete all of their text messages, which he did not.
When investigators picked through the victim's phone they found about 900 text messages in the month of October alone, several of which consisted of Mr. Kandel asking the teen about his choice in underwear, his pubic grooming habits and the size of his penis -- which Mr. Kandel asked him to measure.
"Double check for ya when ya come over," he offered in one text, investigators said.
Mr. Kandel and the teen also discussed the latter providing sexual pictures of himself on a disc or memory card for Mr. Kandel.
After seizing his cell phone and several computer items from Mr. 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 then 18 via Facebook and text messaging and "considers himself a mentor" to teenage boys.
Asked to describe his mind set during the text conversations in question, Mr. 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 Mr. Kandel into custody on one count each of criminal solicitation and communication with a minor -- sexual abuse.
As of 4 p.m. this afternoon he was awaiting arraignment at the Lackawanna County Courthouse.
Though the charges against Mr. Kandel only account for the one victim, the affidavit supporting those charges lays out a pattern of behavior Mr. Kandel perpetrated on other teenage boys as well.
The "scheme" started with texts in which Mr. Kandel would tell teen boys that they would look sexually attractive in Calvin Klein underwear.
Mr. 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 Mr. Kandel considered himself a "life coach" for the teens.
Mr. Kandel's arrest on Monday came about four years after authorities launched an investigation into Mr. Kandel in the summer of 2008 over allegations that he sent lewd text messages to a 17-year-old boy.
Investigators later discovered that Mr. 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.
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