A former substitute teacher at Manchester Regional High School faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to sexting and engaging in sexual activity with underage students.
Linda Hardan, 22, wept in Superior Court in Paterson as she admitted that she sent sexually explicit photos of herself to a 16-year-old student in November 2014, and performed oral sex with another 16-year-old student. She said she met both students while she was working at the regional high school in Haledon.
Answering questions from defense attorney Alyssa Hascup, Hardan also admitted that she engaged in similar sexual activity with a 14-year-old student the same month. She said she met the student while she was working as a substitute teacher at the Haledon public schools.
Hardan was at one point sobbing so hard that she was unable to answer questions. Judge Miguel de la Carrera gave her a few minutes to collect herself.
Prosecutors had said at the time of Hardan’s arrest in December 2014 that the student in Haledon was an eighth-grader at the Haledon public school, and that she engaged in sex with him after taking him to a location in Paterson.
Anyone aged 16 or older is deemed in New Jersey to be old enough to consent to sex. But the law makes an exception and prohibits adults from engaging in sexual activity with anyone from age 16 to 18 if the adult has supervisory authority over the teen. People with supervisory authority include parents, guardians, teachers, tutors, coaches or priests.
Hardan pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of child endangerment. Gyselle Da Silva, a Passaic County senior assistant prosecutor, said the state would recommend a sentence of up to five years in prison as part of the plea agreement. When Hardan completes her prison sentence, she would be subject to registration and supervision requirements as a sex offender under Megan’s Law, and would be placed on lifelong parole, Da Silva said.
Hardan also is required to give up her substitute-teacher license and will not be allowed to teach, and she is also required to make no contact with the victims, Da Silva said.
De la Carrera set Hardan’s sentencing for Sept. 30.
Hardan was released on $200,000 bail in early December 2014 and has been required to wear an ankle-bracelet monitor.