Cheerleading coach faces sexual abuse charges
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Police have charged a Marion County cheerleading coach with sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy in her Mannington home.
Amanda Jo Barker, 31, of Howard Street, was arraigned Tuesday in Marion Magistrate Court on three counts of sexual abuse by a person of trust. Barker is the freshman cheerleading coach at North Marion High School.
The investigation began earlier this month when a student came forward with information. The student told administrators on Oct. 10 that Barker had performed oral sex on another student.
Sgt. Adam Scott, an investigator with the State Police Crimes Against Children Unit, responded to the school with Matthew Croft, an investigator from the Department of Health and Human Resources.
The teen initially denied any sexual encounters with Barker, telling investigators he lied about the incident to his girlfriend to make her jealous, according to a complaint filed in Marion Magistrate Court.
Scott wrote in the complaint that the teen then told investigators Barker had performed oral sex on him three times in her home last winter.
The teen told investigators he spends a lot of time at Barker's home because he is "good friends" with her husband, Josh Barker, who served at one point as the teen's soccer coach. He said his family is close with the Barkers, whom he has known for two years, and
his parents knew he was spending time there.
"The victim said for a long time he would go to the Barkers' house every weekend," Scott wrote. "He said he would eat dinner there, play video games and shoot basketball."
He told investigators he and Amanda Jo Barker "began to flirt around together" and "she apparently thought he liked her," according to the complaint.
The teen said before he went to bed at their house, she would sit next to him on a couch in the living room and perform oral sex on him.
"He said after the third time it occurred, they talked about it and said it shouldn't have happened and they could not tell anyone," Scott wrote in the complaint.
The boy told police the woman's husband "must have been in bed" when the alleged incidents occurred.
In response to questioning, the teen told investigators nothing other than oral sex occurred. He said at one point she asked him if he wanted to go further, but he declined "because it felt wrong."
He said he also told his best friend about the encounters.
Scott spoke with Barker, a mother of three, later that afternoon at the Fairmont detachment. She told him the boy "is like a little brother to her husband," according to the complaint.
She initially denied the allegations but then admitted to them. She told the officer the teen "has a flirting way about him."
She said it began with a text or an email and he would act like he was going to bed and she would follow him. Her husband and children were in bed when the incidents occurred, she said.
She told investigators they stopped "because they knew it was wrong" and she knew she could get into trouble. Barker told investigators she had never done anything with any other minors.
Barker said the guilt began to set in and she was embarrassed, regretful and worried.
"She said she does not think she has a problem that she needs help for," Scott wrote in the complaint. "It was just a lustful thing and the flesh gave in. The accused said the victim had a choice, too, but she should have been the adult about it."
Scott also spoke to the teen's mother, who said she was aware her son spent time at the Barker home. The woman told troopers she expected her son to be safe there.
She said she couldn't believe Barker "did this to her son and was very upset over the crime" after placing so much trust in the family.
A secretary at North Marion High School told a reporter that a lawyer had advised the school not to comment.
Andy Neptune, administrative assistant in the Marion County Schools personnel division, said Barker was a volunteer coach at the school.
"It is the policy of the Marion County School System to not comment on proceedings, particularly when it involves a personnel matter," Neptune said Tuesday afternoon.
Barker was released Tuesday on $15,000 bond secured by a bail bondsman, according to an assistant clerk in Marion Magistrate Court.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at email@example.com or 304-348-4850.