[lin_video src=http://eplayer.clipsyndicate.com/embed/player.js?div_id=videoplayer-1365032625&height=510&page_count=5&pf_id=9626&va_id=4004510&width=480&windows=2 service=syndicaster width=480 height=510 div_id=videoplayer-1365032625 type=script]A former Mercer County official and teacher has been charged after police said he was caught trading sexually explicit text messages with a 15-year-old female student.
Robert Palko Jr., 38, of Hubbard, turned himself in to police on Tuesday. The former Shenango Township supervisor and art teacher was charged Tuesday with unlawful contact with a minor with obscene and other sexual materials, criminal use of communication, child pornography, corruption of minors and having a photograph of a sex act.
“Apparently with this young lady, texts went back and forth and even in this particular case, it doesn’t mean that he sent the wrong type of picture, versus what was sent to him,” said Southwest Regional Police Department Chief Riley Smoot Jr.
Police said it began at the West Middlesex School District, where Palko was an art teacher. He resigned earlier this year.
The superintendent said they discovered what was going on and contacted police. Smoot said teachers need to draw lines with their students.
“That line has to be drawn and made clear to not cross it. As an adult, you should be able to sit there and say ‘you can’t do this. We can’t have this type of relationship. We can laugh and talk with each other, but we can’t be more than that’,” Smoot said.
Palko is out on a $25,000 bond and is due back in court for a preliminary hearing April 18.