PA investigates former teacher 14 years after charges

Fourteen years after a Vincentian Academy coach and teacher was forced to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct with basketball players, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is questioning former athletes who played for him.

David Scott Zimmerman, 46, of O’Hara is the subject of the investigation, according to one of his former athletes. He said a state investigator contacted him to verify his story.

“He was contacting all the people involved,” said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was told that disclosure of DOE investigations is a crime. The investigator told him that the state is trying to suspend or revoke Zimmerman’s teaching license.

Apparently, he said, Zimmerman “is still able to teach in the state of Pennsylvania. How that is possible I don’t know.”

Generally, a complaint about a teacher’s license must be filed within a year of the alleged misconduct or a year from the time the misconduct was discovered.

Scott David Zimmerman mugshot
August 2008 mug shot of David Scott Zimmerman (Photo provided by the Allegheny County Jail)

The case against Zimmerman was well publicized in local news media after police and the U.S. Attorney’s office filed charges in 1999.

Last week, PublicSource revealed that Zimmerman had formed a nonprofit youth group in Florida, called the Y.E.A. Foundation, that works with young people who are interested in extreme sports and the arts.

PublicSource first wrote about Zimmerman last June in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal. New laws about adults who work with children have been proposed in the state legislature because of the Sandusky case.

Zimmerman did not respond to requests for comment about the DOE investigation by telephone or email. In February he told PublicSource that he has had offers to coach teams, but because of the Vincentian case he hasn’t wanted to ever coach or teach again.

The state Professional Standards and Practices Commission, an independent body that oversees the discipline of teachers, referred PublicSource to the DOE press office. Press Secretary Tim Eller would not answer questions and instead sent links to the agency’s Internet site.

Vincentian forced Zimmerman to resign in December 1998 after an athlete accused him of abusive behavior. Duquesne University, which operated the Catholic high school at the time, conducted an investigation and concluded that accusations by that boy and others were credible, according to records filed in a 2000 lawsuit.

The school had agreed not to disclose the circumstances of Zimmerman’s resignation, according to a pre-trial statement in a civil lawsuit brought by the parents of two boys.

The school had notified McCandless police. Thirteen boys who were interviewed described a variety of misconduct, such as being shown pornography at Zimmerman’s home and being compelled to simulate masturbation and oral sex, according to police reports filed in federal court records. Zimmerman denied the allegations.

Police charged him with simple assault and corruption of minors. He was convicted in 2001 of the second charge. His attorney has described the conviction as failure to prevent a boy from engaging in obscene behavior.

A judge barred him from contacting his victims or engaging in work with children for one year.  Zimmerman eventually got the charges expunged, a judicial procedure where documents are sealed or removed from the public record.

In 2002, a federal child pornography charge against Zimmerman was dismissed after the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the search warrant was improper.

The state investigator did not reveal why the DOE is probing old allegations, the former athlete said.

In a 2005 bankruptcy filing, Zimmerman listed his teaching certificate as an asset.

Reach Bill Heltzel at 412-315-0265 or bheltzel@publicsource.org.

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  • I am grateful to Public Source for pursuing his story. When the incidents occurred 14 years ago, I was amazed that he was simply allowed to go away, and I am glad that the whole story is finally coming out. - by Katie McCorkle on April 25, 2013 - 11:44am