by: Michael p. Buffer
Anyone with information about the case should contact the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, Assistant District Attorney Jenny Roberts said. The teacher, Lauren Harrington-Cooper, 31, was arrested Thursday for having sex with an 18-year-old student, Roberts said.
The age of the alleged victim, an unidentified male senior, was not included in arrest papers filed Thursday night. His age explains why the teacher was not charged with statutory sexual assault or corruption of minors.
A victim must be under 16 for statutory sexual assault and under 18 for corruption of minors, Roberts explained. The age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16, and a defendant charged with statutory sexual assault must be four or more years older than the victim.
Institutional sexual assault is a third-degree felony, Roberts said. Certain employees of specific institutions, such as school employees and volunteers, can be charged with the crime if they have sex or indecent contact with wards of the institutions or students at the school. The charge can result in a prison sentence of seven years.
Harrington-Cooper, an English teacher from Kingston, performed oral sex on the senior three times and had intercourse with him twice, the alleged victim told authorities. When questioned by law enforcement, the teacher allegedly admitted to picking up the senior, driving around and having intercourse twice in her vehicle and oral sex once in her vehicle.
The teacher and her husband, Raphael Cooper, founded the Cooper Dance Academy in August 2012, according to a report in The Citizens’ Voice. The academy has operated out of the Body Language Studios in Kingston, and it offered instruction in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, modern, children’s and adult’s ballroom and Zumba.
The following post appeared Friday on the Cooper Dance Academy’s Facebook page: “After the holiday, I, Raphael Cooper will address all of the members of our studio as to our future. Please keep everyone in our family in your prayers as we confront the days ahead.”
Supportive comments were posted in response.
The following was posted on the Facebook page at 4 p.m. Thursday: “Due to a family emergency we must cancel classes for tonight! Please excuse this as we truly apologize for this abrupt cancellation!”
After 8 p.m. Thursday, Harrington-Cooper was in handcuffs when arriving at an arraignment in Wilkes-Barre in a Plymouth police cruiser. Magisterial District Judge Martin Kane released her after setting an unsecured bail amount of $25,000.
After the arraignment, an unidentified man picked her up at the magisterial judge’s office. She hid her face, and they declined to speak with news reporters.
Harrington-Cooper and Cooper own a residential property in Kingston. Cooper is an English teacher in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and an adjunct professor at Misericordia University, according to the website for Body Language Studios.