Matthew Meckley
Matthew Meckley (Courtesy of Fox43.com)

A Spring Grove Area High School gym teacher is free on $50,000 bail, accused of having sex with a 17-year-old high school student.

Matthew M. Meckley, 34, of 2661 Dunbarton Drive in Dover Township, was arraigned Friday morning on a single first-degree misdemeanor charge of corruption of a minor.

During the arraignment, Meckley's Harrisburg-based attorney, Robert Daniels, told the presiding district judge that Meckley is on leave from the school district.

He worked at the school for 12 years; York Area Regional Police said he taught gym and health.

It's unclear whether Meckley's leave is paid or unpaid. A spokeswoman for Spring Grove Area School District declined comment.

At the time of the alleged crime, Meckley lived on Corbin Road in York Township, which is where York Area Regional Detective Donald Hopple Jr. alleges the corruption happened.

Although Daniels asked for unsecured bail, District Judge Scott Laird said he needed to consider "the interest of the community at large."

No contact with kids: Laird ordered that as a condition of bail, Meckley have no contact with anyone less than 18 years old.

Neither Meckley nor his attorney spoke with reporters after the arraignment, and Meckley did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Charging documents allege between May 1, 2011, and June 5, 2011, Meckley had sex four or five times with a 17-year-old girl at his York Township home.

The alleged victim was not in any of Meckley's classes at the time, police said.

She told investigators she first met Meckley when she was in seventh or eighth grade, and had him for health and gym classes in ninth through 11th grades.

Texts: She said Meckley started text messaging her "more often" after Christmas 2010, and that while the texts were usually "just normal conversation," he would occasionally "throw something else in," according to Meckley's arrest affidavit.

Asked for an example, the girl recounted that Meckley brought up the movie "Wild Things" and mentioned there was a scene "about a teacher hooking up with a student and having sex," the affidavit states. In the movie, a teacher has a sexual encounter with two students.

The alleged victim said the first time she and Meckley had sex was in his home, in his bed, after watching a movie, according to the affidavit.

She said she met with him perhaps five or 10 times, but only had sex four or five times.

Meckley has no prior record and voluntarily surrendered to police, his attorney said during the arraignment.

His preliminary hearing is set for March 1.

Change in law: Hopple said he was unable to charge Meckley with any felony underage-sex offenses, which require alleged victims be less than 16 years old if the sex is "consensual." (Although in Pennsylvania, children less than 16 can't legally consent to sex with an adult more than four years older than them.)

But recent changes in state law mean the corruption charge filed against Meckley would be graded as a third-degree felony - if the conduct happened today, according to Hopple.

Also, the existing felony offense of institutional sexual assault has been amended to include relationships between teachers and students, Hopple said.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.