MOON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – A local teacher is facing charges after allegedly engaging in sexual activity with two of her students.
According to the criminal complaint, the suspect has been identified as Tiffany Leiseth, 26, of Moon Township.
Leiseth has been a substitute teacher in the New Brighton School District for two years. This past year, she was serving as a long-term English class substitute at the high school.
Police were initially contacted after the superintendent received two phone calls claiming senior male students at the school were engaging in sexual activity with a teacher. The investigation began 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.”
During the course of their investigation, it was determined that Leiseth texted nude photos to two 18-year-old seniors.
Class schedules for both students showed Leiseth as their teacher.
During follow up interviews with police, the victims each described how they had been separately invited to Leiseth’s house to have sex.
Both of the victims said she offered them beer at the house before engaging sexual activities.
“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 disagrees.
He says, “She was not their teacher at the time, and they were not her students. My client did not pursue those boys. They are adults. They make their own decisions.”
“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,” Chief McCarthy said. “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 concede 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.
Leiseth is now facing a list of charges including, institutional sexual assault and furnishing alcohol to minors. She has also been fired by the school district.
The school district has released the following statement regarding the incident:
“The New Brighton Area School District promptly reported the events details in the criminal complaint to local law enforcement and other state agencies as soon as we were made aware. The District has provided our complete cooperation with all involved agencies in the matters that were reported and we will continue to do so through the completion of the case. Although we would like to provide further comment, we are unable to so in light of pending litigation.
The individual is no longer employed by the District and we are unable to make further comment as this is a personnel matter and the law prohibits us from making comments on matters of personnel.”