CHESTER COUNTY — A former resource officer at Downingtown West High School has been charged with corruption of minors after she allegedly was found semi-clothed in the back of a parked vehicle with a 17-year-old male former student at the high school, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Stefanie Dunne, 44, of Thornton, was charged after the investigation of an incident that occurred May 4, the DA’s office said. Dunne is a former member of the Downingtown Police Department.
According to investigators, she was found in a car parked in a secluded area with the student at about 10:45 p.m. by Upper Uwchlan Police.
The officer said in a criminal complaint that Dunne appeared to be putting on her shirt while moving from the back seat to the front of the vehicle as the officer approached, investigators said. The victim was in the back seat and was shirtless, police said. The victim told police his name and said he was 18 years old, but police later determined he was providing an incorrect year of birth, investigators said.
Further investigation revealed an ongoing relationship between Dunne and the student, authorities said.
Dunne was married at the time, investigators said.
Dunne and the student met when the victim was in ninth grade, according to investigators. They allegedly communicated via Snapchat and text message about having a sexual relationship. The victim allegedly told police that Dunne would pick him up in her car and drive to secluded areas where they would kiss, hug, and touch each other. The victim told police that Dunne was not wearing her shirt on the night they were found by the officer.
Dunne allegedly told she was acting as “sort of a counselor” to the victim, whom she described as a “tortured soul” and “very depressed.” She allegedly claimed she was concerned that the victim was contemplating suicide and agreed to meet him in the secluded area. She confirmed that the victim had his shirt off and that they were hugging, police say.
Police said they found several photographs of Dunne on the victim’s phone, and that the two exchanged more than 6,000 text messages dating back to May 2018. Many of the messages contained sexual references and innuendo, police said.
Dunne was arrested on June 30.
Downingtown Area School District issued this statement:
Downingtown Area School District strongly condemns the actions necessitating the officer’s dismissal and applaud the police for their quick action in this matter. Upon notification by the police about the impending investigation, the School Resource Officer (SRO) was immediately removed from her placement in the district. Anytime there is a threat to a young person, it is deeply upsetting. As a district, we continually strive to ensure the safety and protection of our school community.
The district has always had an exceptional working relationship with the Downingtown Police Department. We appreciate the strong partnership we have with our local emergency responders and we will continue to seek their support and guidance in the future.