Music teacher seeks lower bail in sex assault case
Dale Schimpf, 71, of Frackville, center, was arraigned Monday afternoon on charges related to having sex with a minor male from Tamaqua. He was escorted to court by arresting officer Tamaqua Cpl. Thomas Rodgers and Patrolman Michael Weaver. KATHY KUNKEL/TIMES NEWS
When police arrested music educator Dale C. Schimpf on sexual assault charges, he was holding his cellphone and using an online dating app called “Grindr” — the same app he allegedly used to contact his 13-year-old victim, according to testimony in Schuylkill County court Friday.
Tamaqua Police Corporal and criminal investigator Thomas Rogers arrested Schimpf, 71, Frackville, in the band room at Nativity B.V.M. High School on Feb. 25. His felony charges include statutory sexual assault, indecent sexual deviate intercourse by forcible compulsion, indecent sexual deviate intercourse with a person less than 16 and corruption of minors; and his misdemeanor charges include indecent exposure and indecent assault on a person less than 16.
Schimpf has been incarcerated in county prison since his arrest, unable to post the $100,000 straight cash bail imposed by District Magistrate Stephen Bayer. He sought a bail reduction in Schuylkill County Court Friday, in a hearing presided over by Judge Jacqueline Russell.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Russell said she would review the evidence for the case and issue a ruling later. Russell was involved with various court proceedings throughout the day and did not issue a ruling by close-of-business Friday.
She is expected to rule on the bail reduction request Monday. Schimpf was represented by attorney Christine Holman, with attorney Thomas Pellish prosecuting.
According to the police report, Schimpf was in contact with the boy through the Grindr app. Schimpf asked to meet the victim after saying he thought he was “cute and I like younger,” then sent him a photo of his genitals.
He picked up the victim Feb. 23 at the boy’s home in Tamaqua, took him to dinner and then to his home in Frackville, where the victim said he was forced to participate in sexual acts.
When interviewed by police, Schimpf admitted having sex with the young man, but said he was under the impression the boy was a 30-year-old man.
Through her questioning, Holman established that her client had been a lifelong resident of Schuylkill County, was well-educated with a master’s degree and worked as a music educator for three local school entities, North Schuylkill, Nativity and Cardinal Brennan (now closed).
Schimpf said that he was willing to surrender his driver’s license and passport. Holman pointed out that he is a music director and organist in two churches.
Schimpf, who’s been incarcerated for 38 days, said that his car has been repossessed and that he was having trouble meeting household bills, adding that he could provide “maybe a thousand dollars” for bail.
In response to a question for Judge Russell about income and savings, Schimpf said that adding Social Security benefits and a teacher’s pension, his income was about $4,000 monthly.
He said he had made “unwise financial decisions.” Schimpf’s teaching pension is from North Schuylkill School District, where he was a teacher from 1969 through 1999.
Anthony Kurdilla, a Frackville resident who said he met Schimpf 42 years ago, testified for Schimpf and said he would help him with rides as necessary for court proceedings. Schimpf has a preliminary hearing before Bayer April 23.
“I find Dale to be a very honorable man,” Kurdilla testified.
During his testimony, arresting officer Rogers painted a different picture of Schimpf.
Questioned by Holman as to why the arrest was made on school grounds, Rogers said that law enforcement made the move as soon as possible once they had a warrant, feeling it was “better to take him out of that environment as soon as possible.”
When Judge Russell asked him about evidence, Rogers said police have a videotaped confession obtained after the arrest.
Also, Rogers told Russell, police found nude photographs shared back and forth several times by both the accused and the victim via cellphone exchanges. Schimpf’s cellphone is currently at the state crime lab in Harrisburg, Rogers said.
“I don’t believe him to be a flight risk,” Rogers said in response to Holman’s questioning. “But I do think he could be a danger to the rest of a community. My worry is that he may have contact with somebody else.”
Holman said that incarceration has been difficult for Schimpf, although he is in protective custody.
“His sleep is interrupted,” Homan said. “And he has arthritis.”