PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local substitute teacher accused of having sex with two students will go to trial.
Tiffany Leiseth, 26, of Moon Township, allegedly had inappropriate relationships with two male students while serving as a substitute teacher at New Brighton High School.
Her attorney says she did not do anything wrong because both of the alleged victims were 18 at the time.
She is charged with “institutional sexual assault,” which is a third-degree felony.
“As morally offensive as it may be to some people, you have two 18-year-old men involved with a woman who is over the age of 18 — after the students completed their requirements,” said defense attorney Michael DeRiso.
Leiseth had 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.
During the course of their investigation, it was determined that Leiseth texted nude photos to two 18-year-old seniors.
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.
Fellow teacher Kate Byers testified that Leiseth “told me that she had intercourse with both” and that “she was very upset that she had done that.”
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.
New Brighton Superintendent Joseph Guarino was closely questioned by the defense about the dates for the end of the senior year in May, when grades are handed in — versus graduation day in June. The superintendent contends that seniors remain students until graduation day.
“Our crimes code does not define ‘student,’ so the student in our opinion is no longer a student when the final grades are handed in,” he said.
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 and has voluntarily given up her state teaching license.
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