Your Local News | Allentown, Bethlehem & Easton
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Easton News

Easton officer accused of sending explicit images to minor waives preliminary hearing

Easton High School
Donna S. Fisher
For LehighValleyNews.com
An Easton Area High School resource officer accused of sending illicit images to a teen waived his preliminary hearing Friday morning.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article contains graphic content.

EASTON, Pa. — An Easton Area High School resource officer accused of sending illicit images to a teen waived his preliminary hearing in Palmer Township on Friday.

According to court officials, John Smoke, 45, of Bangor, waived his right to a preliminary hearing in front of District Judge Susan Hutnik.

Neither Smoke nor his legal counsel have confirmed any particular reason for waiving the hearing.

Smoke faces a first-degree misdemeanor charge of corruption of a minor.

Court documents show Smoke is set to appear in court again on Aug. 22 for a formal arraignment and pretrial conference. The waiver means the charges now proceed to Northampton County Court.

Smoke was serving as a school resource officer when he sent a 16-year-old girl money through CashApp and sent a sexually explicit image of himself, the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office said.

Smoke allegedly FaceTimed the girl from his school office while she was home sick in October 2023 with his penis in hand, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The victim screen-recorded the call, police said.

In a news release, Northampton County District Attorney Stephen Baratta said prompt action had been taken by school officials and law enforcement once they learned of the incident.

Smoke was removed from the school and the Palmer Township Police Department — the agency he works for — seized his duty pistol, badge, and work computer, according to the release. Court record indicate he voluntarily turned over his personal cell phone.

Smoke was released on a $50,000 unsecured bail on April 24,.

Township police initially placed Smoke on administrative leave, court records state.

Chief Wayne Smith said in April that Smoke had been suspended from the force with the intent to terminate. He is a 20-year veteran of the Palmer police force who has been stationed at the high school since September 2022, Smith said.

"We take this matter very seriously and are cooperating fully with the investigation, which is being conducted by the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office," Smith said.

Authorities noted Smoke was to be held under pretrial supervision and ordered to have no contact with the victim, in addition to having no entry into Easton Area High School.

If Smoke is convicted, he could face a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison.

“We want to assure the students, parents and others who may have an ongoing relationship with the school that all information gathered to this point indicates that this is a completely isolated matter,” the district attorney's release said.

The district attorney’s office said there was no indication of other victims, and no other students have had ongoing contact with Smoke, though Smith stated anyone with information relevant to the case should contact the DA’s office.