x
Breaking News
More () »

WNEP.com | News, Weather & Sports from WNEP-TV — Proud to Serve Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania

Former Principal Frank Michaels Charged with Perjury, Endangerment

SWOYERSVILLE — A former high school principal and longtime educator was charged Friday with knowing about a sexual relationship between a coach and studen...
frank michaels walk

SWOYERSVILLE -- A former high school principal and longtime educator was charged Friday with knowing about a sexual relationship between a coach and student and doing nothing about it.

That wrestling coach was convicted, but prosecutors say the principal lied under oath.

Frank Michaels was principal at Coughlin High School. He's currently a Forty Fort borough councilman. Now he's charged with endangering the welfare of a child and perjury.

Michaels was arraigned at a magisterial judge's office in Swoyersville late Friday afternoon.

Former Coughlin High School Principal Frank Michaels is facing perjury and child endangerment charges. Court papers indicate he lied under oath while being questioned in another case.

That case involved former Coughlin wrestling coach and dean Stephen Stahl.  Stahl was convicted in January for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. He served time behind bars.

Authorities believe Michaels lied to authorities when Michaels told them he never heard about a sexual relationship between the coach and student.

According to court papers, another teacher reported the relationship and Michaels tried to cover up and never reported it to police.

During Stahl's trial, Michaels testified he knew nothing about the relationship, and that, "I would find it highly unlikely if there were rumors that no member of my staff would come to me and let me know about it."

"Even if I weren't subpoenaed, if I would be asked to come and testify, being the principal who was on duty during the time of these allegations, that I do have the responsibility to come and testify," Michaels said back in January.

Authorities say they investigated his claims and found it to be not true.

"We take the oath of the witnesses very seriously when they take the stand and are told not to lie. And when they do, people need to know we will investigate if we have information to believe they are lying on the stand," said Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.

Prosecutors say Michaels had the responsibility to report the sex abuse as soon as he heard about it, but never did.

Instead, it was years before Stahl's victim came forward. And it was only after Stahl was convicted that people came forward to say they knew that Michaels knew what Stahl was doing.

In arrest papers, Michaels told a witness the message he gave to Stahl quote:

"At any time you get the temptation, look at your pay stub and think, 'Is that piece of *** worth your paycheck?'"

"If you know that a child is being victimized in any way--sexually, physically, even neglect--it is important for people to come forward," said Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.

Michaels is retired from his 35 years at Coughlin High School, but he is a current borough councilman in Forty Fort, now charged with covering up a child sex crime.

"Just passed it right by and the guy convicted, Stahl, went where he belongs and if you're going to cover it up, you should be with him," said Tom Piezynski.

We talked to Piezynski in Forty Fort. He's a long-time teacher and Wyoming Valley West School Board member. That's a district that also had a teacher serve time recently for having sex with a student, Lauren Harrington Cooper.

"Pedophiles are pedophiles and they've gotta be dealt with and someone's gotta do something about it," Piezynski said.

Authorities aren't saying how much time Michaels could face if he is convicted.

Michaels is free on $20,000 bail. There is no word yet what these charges mean for his position on Forty Fort borough council.