Attorney for Valley Forge counselor calls sex assault allegations 'complete fabrications'

By CINDY SCHARR
cscharr@delcotimes.com

Click Here to view article from The Delaware County Daily Times

RADNOR - The attorney for the Valley Forge Military Academy guidance counselor fired for providing alcohol to students vehemently denies other charges alleging this client had sexual contact with a cadet.

"Any allegations of sexual assault are complete fabrications from students with long disciplinary histories at the school and who were subject to expulsion for one more infraction," said Attorney Richard Hark, who represents Symantha Hicks, 30, of Horsham. "The school believed the misbehaving students and dumped a highly credentialed teacher at her expense to protect the tuition payments of the students."

Hicks was fired last month after two 17-year-old students leveled allegations against her that she had provided them with booze.

During an interview with police, the students said Hicks also had oral sex with a 16-year-old cadet. The 16-year-old boy was interviewed by police later and reportedly told them of an alleged sexual encounter he said occurred in Hicks' campus office in October.

Hark said on Wednesday he was unaware of the allegations of sexual misconduct. He acknowledged Hicks does not deny allowing the students access to alcohol during a trip to an off-campus hockey game, but stressed the allegations of sexual misconduct are complete falsehoods.

"While we are acknowledging the inappropriate providing of alcohol, no alcohol was specifically purchased for any student," Hark added. "A very small number of students were in the car and driven by Ms. Hicks to the off-campus hockey game. During that event the students were given access to alcohol."

According to Hark, the students became intoxicated and were found out when they returned to campus.

VFMA never spoke to Hicks, the attorney said, but instead took the word of the students.

"They summarily believed the allegations of the students who were facing disciplinary action for being drunk," Hark said.

Hark also said t if his client had sexual contact with a student, she would have been charged with aggravated indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Galantino said those charges require the alleged victim to be younger than 16-years-old, and do not apply to this case. Hicks is charged with the felony offense of unlawful contact with a minor (involving) sexual offenses, Galantino said.

"We're confident in the charging decision," Galantino said.

Hicks waived her preliminary hearing Thursday on that charge as well as four counts of corruption of minors and four counts of furnishing alcohol to minors. She was released on $20,000 unsecured bail. Her next court appearance will be her formal arraignment in Media next month.

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