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Berks Co. HS coach Benjamin Stopper charged with sexually assaulting girl

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 17 2013 04:56:13 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 19 2013 01:39:58 PM CDT

Ben Stopper charged

HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. -

Benjamin Stopper, a well-known high school coach in Berks County, is now charged with sexually assaulting a 16 year-old player.

Stopper is an assistant football and track coach at Conrad Weiser High School in Heidelberg Township. State police arrested him Friday night after searching his Sinking Spring home.

"They drove home and drove into the driveway and [police] put him in the car and arrested him, took him away," said neighbor Linda Kline.

State police said the teenager's father alerted authorities Friday morning. According to court papers, the 16 year-old girl said she and Stopper had sex "every time I saw him ... at least 20 times" since May -- even while Stopper's wife was in the hospital after giving birth.

On one occasion, Stopper allegedly took the teen on a business trip to Philadelphia, having sex with her in his car on the drive back. Other sexual encounters allegedly took place in the girl's home, and some at Stopper's house, according to arrest papers.

Stopper is now accused of institutional sexual assault.

"That's very disheartening," said neighbor Heather Hackman.

State troopers searched the teenager's phone records and found sexual text messages between Stopper and the girl, according to an arrest warrant.

"Shocking," said neighbor Mike Miller. "We would have never expected that here, but I guess you never do."

Stopper's wife is also a physical education teacher and coach at Conrad Weiser, according to police.

Fellow football coaches would not comment about the arrest Saturday afternoon as the team arrived back from a scrimmage.

Conrad Weiser superintendent Randall Grove would not comment on Stopper's employment status, calling it a personnel issue, but he said he has been in touch with the Berks County district attorney's office. Grove would not say if counseling would be made available to students.

Messages to Stopper's phones were not returned as well.

His neighbors are talking, though.

"That's very disturbing that somebody would do that, somebody in that position would do that," said Kline.