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Posted Monday, April 10th, 2017

Morris County Prosecutor's logo A former Parsippany Hills High School teacher was sentenced Monday to five years in state prison after pleading guilty to endangering the welfare of a child through sexually explicit texting.

The case was brought by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp and Parsippany Police under the direction of Chief Paul Philipps.

“The state prison sentence for this offender will hopefully send a message that the abuse of children, in any way shape or form, by those in positions of authority will not be tolerated,” Knapp said

Jenna Leahey, 35, was indicted three years ago on two counts of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, one count of second degree Sexual Assault, one count of second degree Official Misconduct and three counts of fourth degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.

Leahey, who now lives in Mount Olive, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child by engaging in conduct that would debauch or impair the morals of a minor.

Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp

Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp

Leahey was an English teacher when she began an inappropriate relationship with a then 16-year-old student. The relationship started in late January 2013 when the defendant began exchanging sexually explicit text messages with the victim and later sent sexually explicit pictures of herself to him.  The relationship continued through June 6 of that year with acts occurring on and off school grounds.

Meg Rodriguez, the Supervising Assistant Prosecutor, noted that as a teacher of English, Leahey clearly understood what she was doing.

“Of all people, she knew and understood the significance and power of words,” Rodriguez said.

In pronouncing sentence in state Superior Court, Morristown, Judge Salem V, Ahto noted the “vivid, lurid details” of many of the text messages.

Prosecutor Knapp expressed thanks to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes/Child Endangerment Unit and to Parsippany Police for the successful conclusion of this case.

Any inquiries can be directed to Public Information Officer Fred Snowflack at [email protected]