WILKES-BARRE -- A jury in Luzerne County found a former high school wrestling coach guilty of having sex with a female student a decade ago.
Friday night that jury returned that verdict against Stephen Stahl after two hours of deliberations.
Surrounded by his family and friends, Stephen Stahl had nothing to say as he left the Luzerne County Courthouse, now a guilty man.
The jury took less than two hours to convict Stahl on a single count of corruption of minors charge for having a sexual relationship with a 16 year old girl 10 years ago.
“We believe, the district attorney`s office, law enforcement, that justice was served today that we want victims to know that`s we`re here and if they have a story they want to tell, we will be here to fight for them,” said Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.
“We`re disappointed with the verdict but we respect the verdict of the jury. They paid close attention all week and they worked hard,” said defense attorney Peter Paul Olszewski.
Stahl, a former wrestling coach and administrator at Coughlin High School was accused of having sex with a then 16-year old student from 2004 to 2005.
The victim, now 26, said she and Stahl had sex several times in classrooms at the school, at hotels and at Stahl`s home in Hunlock Creek.
Before closing arguments, the prosecution called two witnesses who were students at Coughlin with the victim.
They both testified that the girl told them about her relationship with Stahl when it was still going on 10 years ago.
Asked why they didn`t come forward back then, one of them answered: “I couldn't tell. I was a kid myself and my best friend asked me to keep a secret."
“I think the posture of the case changed significantly the last two days when additional witnesses came forward for the commonwealth and completely changed the playing field,” said Olszewski.
“I feel that all the grief that the victim has gone through in this process which was an extremely difficult process for her, I feel she`s been vindicated in the end with this verdict,” said Assistant District Attorney Nancy Voili who prosecuted this case.
Stahl remains free on bail.
His sentencing date has been set for March 23rd at 9 a.m. Luzerne County Courthouse.
Prosecutors say he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.