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Palmerton man arraigned in high school bathroom videotaping

Published March 14. 2014 03:39PM

A 41-year-old Palmerton man was arraigned Friday morning on charges that he allegedly tried to take a video of a teenage girl changing clothes in a bathroom at Palmerton Area High School.

Robert Eckhart, a volunteer football coach who assists with weight training, was released on $100,000 unsecured bail after the arraignment conducted by District Judge William Kissner of Palmerton.

Two conditions of his release are that he not be permitted on any property of the Palmerton Area School district until the charges are resolved and that he not have any contact with the girl or her family.

Eckhart has been charged with photograph/film/depict on computer sex act involving a child and contact by communication with a minor-sexual abuse, both felonies, and invasion of privacy, a misdemeanor.

Judge Kissner had set a hearing date for March 19, but his lawyer, Attorney George Dydynsky, immediately requested and was granted a continuance.

Eckhart was arrested by state police at Lehighton barracks as a result of an incident that happened on Saturday, Feb. 8, in the weight lifting room of Palmerton Area High School.

According to the affidavit, Eckhart admitted to State Trooper Erin Snyder that he had set up a cellphone in the bathroom of the weight lifting room, with the intent to obtain video of the victim “in various stages of undress.”

The weight lifting room is open in some off-school hours, including Saturday mornings, to athletes of various sports for weight training.

Trooper Snyder wrote in the affidavit that the victim had been contacted numerous times, via text messages, by the defendant “requesting to know the exact time” she was going to arrive at the school that Saturday morning.

She was also instructed, according to the affidavit, to use a specific bathroom to change into her workout attire.

According to the affidavit, she discovered a blue iPhone, with a black case, strategically placed, behind the toilet seat, in a unisex bathroom.

The cellphone was in video mode.

The female contacted school officials on Monday, Feb. 10, who in turn reported the incident to state police.

A spokesperson at Palmerton Area High School, who declined to be identified, said there would be no comment because the matter is under investigation.

Eckhart was a volunteer football coach for the past three seasons. He was active in helping students in all sports with weight training.

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