Teacher who repeatedly sexted students blames her strict religious Muslim upbringing

From Chris Murphy 01634 686 515 This smirking teacher who preyed on and traumatised young boys for her own sexual gratification used tears in court to get a judge to knock two years off a plea deal sentence. She was due to be jailed for five years, but she had swapped the cocksure attitude in her mugshot for sobbing, and saw the judge knock her jail term down to three years. Linda Hardan, from Prospect Park, New Jersey, also took to wearing a headscarf in court, something she had not done in previous hearings. NewJersey.com reports the now former substitute teacher at Manchester Regional High School was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for sending sexually explicit text messages and engaging in sex acts with students 14 to 16 years old in 2014. The 22-year-old pleaded guilty in a deal with the Prosecutor's Office that had called for a five-year prison sentence. However, after hearing tearful pleas from members of Hardan's family, along with arguments from defence lawyer Alissa Hascup and Assistant Prosecutor Gyselle Da Silva, Passaic County Superior Court Judge Miguel de la Carrera found enough mitigating factors to depart from the plea deal and impose a three-year sentence, the news site reports. Still weeping, she listened to members of her family tell the judge she was "the foundation, the rock" of her family and that they would be devastated if she were to be sent to prison. Hascup even argued her sexual activities with students had been in part a result of her strict religious upbringing. Da Silva focused on the harm she had done to the students she had sex with, telling the judge they had suffered. And they are quite shocking. In one case, Da Silva said, Hardan had sent 40 images of herself "in varying states of undress" to a 14-year-old boy, then drove the boy to the Great Falls in Paterson, where she committed a sexual act on him. The news site said the boy was "so upset, so disgusted that he got out of the car and walked home to Haledon." In another case, Da Silva said, a 16-year-old was so traumatized by Hardan's actions that he dropped out of high school and has not returned. The judge agreed religion had an effect on her upbringing and life, saying: "She had classmates and friends, but somehow, perhaps because of limitations on her dating life, she didn't find the proper outlet among males of her own age," the judge said. "She did not learn how to interact with guys her age." Hardan will be eligible to apply for parole after a year, but regardless of when she is released she will be under strict supervisory probation for the rest of her life, the judge said, which may limit her smirking for a while. Ends

A high-school teacher who was jailed for performing sex acts on her underage pupils has blamed her strict religious upbringing for her crimes.

Linda Hardan, from Prospect Park in, New Jersey, was jailed to three years in prison yesterday after sending scores of sexually explicit text messages to pupils, aged 14 to 16 years-old in 2014, and then engaging in sex acts with them.

Her defense lawyer, Alissa Hascup, said the Muslim woman was driven in part to commit the offences due to her orthodox upbringing, and suggested that she be treated by a therapist as opposed to serving time in prison.

Hardan, 22, had pleaded guilty in a deal with the Prosecutor’s Office that had called for a five-year prison sentence.

However Passaic County Superior Court Judge Miguel de la Carrera found enough mitigating factors to depart from the plea deal and impose a three-year sentence on the substitute teacher acknowledging the impact of her formative years on her mental development.

‘She had classmates and friends, but somehow, perhaps because of limitations on her dating life, she didn’t find the proper outlet among males of her own age,’ he said.

‘She did not learn how to interact with guys her age,’the judge continued.

In one case Hardan, who taught at Manchester Regional High School, sent 40 selfies of herself ‘in varying states of undress’ to a 14-year-old who she then drove him to a waterfall and gave him oral sex.

The prosecutor said the boy was ‘so upset, so disgusted that he got out of the car and walked home’ two miles away.

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Another student, 16, was so traumatized by Hardan’s actions that he dropped out of school and never returned, said prosecutor Gyselle Da Silva.

Hardan, who also admitted sexting another 16-year-old, wept quietly as relatives said she was ‘the foundation, the rock’ of her family and pleaded on Monday for her to be spared jail.

She will be eligible for parole after a year but will be under strict supervisory probation for the rest of her life, the judge said.

De la Carrera said his sentencing options were limited by statute. ‘There might be a wish for the law to be more nuanced, a wish that the law might be different, but it’s not,’ he said.

The judge dismissed Hardan’s request that her sentence be delayed until she finishes her studies at Passaic County Community College in May.

He said that she will be better positioned to resume her studies when the prison sentence is behind her.

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