A Lackawanna County man who pleaded guilty four years ago to providing alcohol to minors during a party at his Peckville house was charged Wednesday with soliciting sex from a teenage boy through text messages.
Investigators said Mark Kandel, 52, of Blythe Drive, exchanged approximately 900 messages with a 17-year-old boy in October and many of them the teenager described as ‚??very perverted.‚?Ě
The former curriculum specialist with the Northeast Education Intermediate Unit 19 in Archbald who also served on the Scranton School Board in the 1990s was sentenced to 90 days home confinement and nine months probation for his guilty plea to the earlier misdemeanor charge.
Information obtained during the investigation that led to the 2008 arrest aided the current case, investigators said. They added that after his arrest they received complaints Kandel, who considered himself a life coach for teenage boys, was having inappropriate online relationships and physical contact with minors, but did not file charges.
In the current case investigators filed felony charges of criminal solicitation and contact /communication with a minor to engage in sex. One of the images sent to the 17-year-old boy depicted Kandel wearing compression underwear with a bulge in the crotch area, investigators said.
According to arrest papers:
The 17-year-old boy contacted the Lackawanna County District Attorney‚??s Office on Nov. 1 by email about his contact with Kandel, whom he met a month earlier through friends. They told the boy Kandel helped them with their school work. Kandel gave his business card with contact information to the boy.
The boy sent an email to Kandel asking for help with a college entrance exam essay and stayed in touch by texting. Their communication was harmless at first but ‚??quickly escalated to sexual content.‚?Ě Even though the boy was nervous about the content, he continued to communicate with Kandel. At one point the boy was going to provide nude pictures of himself to Kandel in exchange for money or favors. The boy also said Kandel wanted to meet him for what the teenager believed to be sexual encounters. The boy denied having sexual relations with him. Despite Kandel‚??s advice to delete all the messages, the boy kept them. Investigators obtained a warrant to search Kandel‚??s residence and seized computer-related items including his cellphone. In an interview with investigators, Kandel said he considered himself a ‚??mentor‚?Ě to boys from troubled homes. He said the sexual messages ‚??have some truth‚?Ě and he becomes ‚??overwhelmed with sexual feelings‚?Ě during the messaging.
Jerry Lynott, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 970-7237.