By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
GREENE TOWNSHIP —
The wife of a Jamestown-area man accused of having sex with a teenage girl is also facing charges for trying to cover up the crime.
Rachelle R. Sankey, 44, of 842 E. Jamestown Road, Greene Township, was charged Monday with intimidating a witness and hindering prosecution for allegedly telling the alleged victim to keep secret a sexual relationship the girl had with 44-year-old Bruce Sankey.
Police said Sankey had sex with the girl between June and December 2011, when she was 14, in his Greene Township home; at Pymatuning Deer Park in Jamestown, where the couple and the teen worked; and in several other secluded places.
The relationship ended after the December 2011 arrest of a former Jamestown High School teacher, Kevin DeFrancesco. He is serving a prison sentence of 2 to 8 years for sending lewd photos and text messages to two students between Oct. 27 and Dec. 6 that year.
Police said Sankey was afraid his relationship with the girl would be discovered because she was one of DeFrancesco’s two victims.
Sankey allegedly told the girl to erase everything from him in her phone and Facebook account because police would be checking them.
Both Sankeys were in district court in Greenville Monday. Bruce Sankey’s preliminary hearing was delayed while police went to arrest his wife and bring her to court for arraignment.
District Judge Brian Arthur held for Mercer County Common Pleas Court charges against Bruce Sankey of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault with a minor younger than 16. Authorities withdrew 210 of the initial charges from his Jan. 23 arrest. Sankey was released after posting part of the $100,000 bond.
Arthur set a preliminary hearing for Rachelle Sankey for 11 a.m. Feb. 12. She was released on $50,000 bail with the condition that she have no contact with the girl or any child younger than 18, except her daughter.
In between the Sankeys’ hearings, prosecutors told family members of the alleged victim that the next step for Sankey at the county court level – his arraignment – is “not a big deal” because it will be a very short reading of the charges.
“It may not be a big deal to you, but it’s a very big deal to us,” one family member said.
According to the police report:
The girl and the Sankeys’ daughter had been friends since grade school.
The relationship between the girl and Sankey began to form over Facebook messenger, through phone calls and in text messages.
Things turned physical in June 2011 when the teen spent the night at the Sankey home at least twice a week. Sankey would approach the girl after his daughter fell asleep and have sex with her.
Sankey also had sex with her in the closed concession stand in Pymatuning Deer Park, in his truck close to Jamestown Elementary School and in Pymatuning State Park.
Both Sankeys told the girl she must continue to work at Deer Park or people would become suspicious.
In November 2011, Rachelle Sankey walked in on her husband and the girl kissing.
Several days later she took the girl out for a drive and warned her not to tell anyone about the relationship with Bruce Sankey because “it would cause a whole bunch of problems and ruin their lives.”
Rachelle Sankey gave the girl several pieces of paper with handwritten Bible verses pertaining to sin and forgiveness, which the victim handed over to police.
Bruce Sankey kept in contact with the girl through Facebook until August 2012. About that time, police said, he tried to reignite the physical relationship because he believed DeFrancesco’s arrest had “blown over,” but the girl refused.