EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — A teacher at Lehighton Area School District (LASD) has been arrested for trying to solicit a minor during a human sex trafficking sting, police say.
Officers with the Lehigh County Drug Task Force said on June 29, a “multi-jurisdictional human trafficking operation was held in South Whitehall Township to combat sex trafficking.
According to a police criminal complaint, law enforcement posted numerous ads on popular “sex websites.” A Homeland Security Task Force Officer posted an ad pretending to be a 17-year-old girl who would be working with a 14-year-old girl, police say.
As the complaint reads, the undercover officer was contacted by a man stating he was willing to meet, who he thought was a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old, agreeing on a price to perform specific sexual acts.
Police say all conversations were captured and recorded and the man, 55-year-old Michael James Feifel, of Walnutport, who is a teacher at Lehighton Area High School, said he wanted to come to the location to perform the specific sex acts.
“These are the teachers that respond to our kids and teach our kids good from bad and it certainly ain’t happening now,” said Joe Solt, Lehighton resident.
According to law enforcement, Feifel showed up at the location he was provided with and began waiting in a vestibule for the minor girls, but instead was met by swarms of police and he was taken into custody.
The complaint reads, Feifel was found to have the exact amount of cash on his person, that was agreed upon for the sex acts and his cell phone. Feifel relinquished his phone to the police and investigators found it to be the same phone he was using to communicate with police, whom he thought were two minor girls.
That was the reaction of one Lehighton resident after hearing about the arrest that took place on Thursday. Michael James Feifel a teacher and coach at Lehighton High School was arrested last Thursday after he was picked up in an area sting. The 55-year-old was arrested in South Whitehall Township.
“I’m very angry knowing that they thought they could get away with this something so evil, and think that it didn’t matter. It does matter,” explained Solt.
Feifel was read his Miranda Rights and told police he would cooperate with them in the investigation during his recorded interview.
Court papers say Michael James Feifel has been arrested for unlawful contact with minors- prostitution.
According to court documents, Feifel was arrested in the past for unlawful contact with the minor.
The LASD Superintendent’s Office released a statement saying that both the school and Mr. Feifel are cooperating with the investigation and that Feifel will not be involved in any coaching or teaching during the summer.
Law enforcement added that Feifel admitted to lewd conversations during a recorded police interview.
Feifel was arrested and arranged to face charges of unlawful contact with a minor and criminal use of a communications facility charges. However, Feifel is free after posting $15,000 bail.
The Lehighton Area School District full statement can be found below:
Within the past few days, the Lehighton district administration learned that one of its teachers, Michael Feifel, was arrested as a result of a human sex trafficking joint investigation of Berks, Northampton, and Lehigh counties. The district and Mr. Feifel are cooperating with the investigation. Mr. Feifel is currently not involved in any coaching or teaching over the summer break, and the district will be assessing his employment status prior to the commencement of the teacher work year in September. The district administration’s number one priority is to keep students safe. Additionally, the district will be guided in that priority when making its employment determinations while preserving the due process rights of the accused teacher.”Dr. Fish, Lehighton Area School District
Fiefel has a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 26 at 2:00 p.m. and the LASD says they will be assessing his employment status prior to the commencement of the teacher work year this September.