Area teacher arrested for having sex with student
By John Chambless
On Sept. 23, Bill Barber, a teacher at Garnet Valley Middle School, was arrested on charges that he had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student at the school.
Barber, who was also a football coach at Garnet Valley, is the brother of Kennett High School principal Michael Barber. His arrest last week was a shocking turn in a life story that has had several recent tragedies.
In late August, Bill Barber and his wife, Kelly, announced The Lemon Shot Challenge, a contest they originated through Alex's Lemonade Stand, which raises money to battle childhood cancer. The challenge, based on the global phenomenon of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, requires participants to take a drink of lemon juice, as well as donate to Alex's Lemonade Stand and nominate three other people to do the same. Bill and Kelly's 4-year-old daughter, Brielle, has been battling an aggressive brain tumor which was first detacted when she was 2.
In the wake of Bill Barber's arrest, on Sept. 23, Garnet Valley School District superintendent Marc Bertrando posted a message to parents on the district's webpage:
"It is with extreme disappointment and great concern that I am writing to inform you that Garnet Valley Middle School Health and Physical Education teacher and Garnet Valley Middle School football coach Bill Barber was arrested today on allegations he had a sexual relationship with a Garnet Valley High School student," Bertrando wrote. "The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office has been handling the case.
"The safety, welfare, and health of our students and staff is our utmost concern, and we are acutely aware of how difficult this situation will be for our entire school community. Please be assured Mr. Barber, who was hired by the district in 2002, had passed all child abuse and criminal history clearances.
"Students yesterday alerted staff to rumors of an inappropriate relationship between Mr. Barber and a student. Our administrative team immediately investigated the matter and contacted police. Mr. Barber was placed on administrative leave and his school keys and access card were confiscated. Our administrative team acted as quickly as we possibly could, and we have been focusing since then on putting plans in place to help our community move forward.
"This crisis reaches all levels of our school district. Mr. Barber both works and lives in our community and is very personally connected with our schools. ... In the coming days, counselors will be available as we all try to cope with this very troubling news."
Sept. 24, Delaware County and Philadelphia news sources cited police statements
that the 15-year-old girl was Barber's former gym student. She told police that
she exchanged text messages and private Twitter messages with Barber, and she
sent him nude photographs. The arrest affidavit stated that Barber and the girl
kissed in Barber's office during the first week of school this year. They also
had sex in Barber's office on Sept. 12, according to the affidavit.
Barber was arraigned on Sept. 23 and was held in Delaware County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail email@example.com.