On Monday, July 10, Pennridge School District in Bucks County announced that Michael Feifel, 55, was removed from his position as a volunteer football coach for the district after they became aware that he was arrested during an investigation into child sex trafficking conducted by Berks, Northampton, and Lehigh counties.
Undercover police officers placed ads on websites posing as a minor to be bought for sex. Feifel allegedly contacted the officers via the information included in one of the ads and arranged a meeting, agreeing to pay for sexual acts. On June 29, Feifel was arrested when he arrived at the designated meeting spot. He was charged with unlawful contact with a minor and criminal use of a communication facility.
In addition to his duties as a volunteer football coach in Bucks County, Feifel is also a high school teacher at Lehighton Area High School in Carbon County. The Lehighton Area School District says that Feifel is not involved in any coaching or teaching activities over the summer, and they will be evaluating his employment status before the school year begins in September. For now, the Lehighton Area School District is cooperating in the investigation. Feifel is also a football coach at Southern Lehigh High School in Southern Lehigh School District, Salisbury High School in Salisbury Township School District, and Northampton High School in Northampton Area School District. Additionally, he coaches football and wrestling at Allentown Central Catholic High School.
The CSE Institute applauds Berks, Northampton, and Lehigh counties for their work in investigating and arresting Feifel. However, we encourage the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office to consider charging Feifel with child sex trafficking in addition to his other charges. Under Pennsylvania law, a person is guilty of child sex trafficking if they recruit, entice, solicit, advertise, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, or maintain a person under 18 for any sex act in exchange for anything of value. Based on the reported facts, Feifel met the elements for this crime by soliciting a person he thought was underage for sex in exchange for money. Further, charging Feifel with unlawful contact with a minor involving prostitution is inappropriate because children cannot legally consent to be bought or sold for sex, and under Pennsylvania’s Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Act, there is “no such thing as a child prostitute.”
Law enforcement must continue taking steps to protect children in their communities by conducting investigations into child sexual abuse. Predators often connect with potential victims via social media or other platforms. Parents should monitor their children’s internet usage and report any suspicious contacts. Vigilant oversight from parents and law enforcement are important tools in ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Arresting sex buyers, who seek to exploit minors and other vulnerable populations, is a key part of reducing the demand for commercial sexual exploitation. The CSE Institute advocates for the . The four pillars of the equality model are: (1) decriminalizing the person in prostitution, (2) criminalizing sex buyers, (3) educating the public about the inherent harms of prostitution, and (4) providing robust, funded exit services for people in prostitution.
The CSE Institute will continue to provide updates on this matter as they become available.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.