A New Brighton School District substitute teacher in Pennsylvania was charged Tuesday with two counts of felony institutional sexual assault and one count of furnishing alcohol to minors after allegedly engaging in sexual activity with two of her students.
Tiffany Leiseth, 26, a substitute teacher in the New Brighton School District for the past two years, was serving this past year as a long-term English class substitute at the high school.
Police were alerted after the district's superintendent allegedly received two phone calls claiming senior male students at the school were sexually involved with a teacher. An investigation ensued at the end of May.
“They had a rumor that a school teacher was sending nude photographs of herself to two male students,” said Chief Leo McCarthy, of Moon Township Police. “They followed up on that rumor and they found those students, and they found the nude photographs, and they identified the teacher.”
The investigation revealed that Leiseth — who is married — texted nude photos to two 18-year-old seniors who were in her English class.
The two men described in a police interview how they had been separately invited to Leiseth’s house, offered beer and engaged in sex.
“It’s known as institutional sexual assault. It’s a felony of the third degree,” said Chief McCarthy. “This crime came on the books around 2007. It’s designed to give people who are being supervised by others protection.”
Defense attorney Mike Deriso has a different opinion.
“She was not their teacher at the time, and they were not her students. My client did not pursue those boys," said Deriso. "They are adults. They make their own decisions.”
“Regardless of your age, whether you’re an adult or not, if you’re a high school student, a teacher cannot have sexual relations with you,” said McCarthy.
“In this case, a school teacher cannot have sex with a student. Now, in this case, these sexual acts are alleged to have occurred hours after the last day of school, but it was several days before they graduated,” said McCarthy. “The superintendent in New Brighton told us ‘those kids are our students until they walk across that stage and get that diploma.’ Therefore, they were still students, so this law applies.”
Investigators say they could not charge Leiseth with any crime related to sending nude photographs of herself to the 18-year-old boys because of their age at the time they are described as adults.
She has been fired by the school district.
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