Earlier this month, former high school teacher and volunteer football coach Michael Feifel, now 56, pleaded guilty to one count each of unlawful contact with a minor- prostitution and criminal use of a communication facility.
According to Lehigh County Assistant District Attorney Holihan, Feifel now faces up to $30,000 in fines at sentencing, which is currently scheduled for March 27, 2024 at 1:30 p.m. Additionally, Attorney Holihan noted that Feifel is required to register as a sex offender for at least 25 years under Pennsylvania law.
Feifel’s charges arose from a multi-jurisdictional child sex trafficking investigation conducted by Berks, Northampton, and Lehigh counties in which undercover police officers placed ads on websites posing as a minor to be bought for sex. Feifel contacted who he believed to be a 17 year-old girl and arranged a meeting, agreeing to pay for sexual acts. On June 29, Feifel was arrested when he arrived at the designated meeting spot and charged with unlawful contact with a minor and criminal use of a communication facility.
Prior to this incident, Feifel was a high school teacher at Lehighton Area High School in Carbon County, and a football coach at Pennridge School District in Bucks County, 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 at Allentown Central Catholic High School.
As we previously reported, Pennridge School District in Bucks County removed Feifel from his position as football coach in response to his arrests on July 10, 2023. In addition, since we last reported, Feifel resigned from his teaching job at Lehighton Area High School effective on August 30, 2023.
The CSE Institute applauds Berks, Northampton, and Lehigh counties for their work in investigating and arresting Feifel. However, we continue to 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 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 Equality Model. The four pillars of the 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.