A former student at Parsippany Hills High School testified Tuesday that his friend — a then-16-year-old male student — told him earlier this year about having sexual relations with a teacher in her classroom.
The statements — in which the witness described both his friend and the teacher touching the other’s genitals — came during a pre-trial hearing in Morris County Superior Court.
Jenna Leahey, 33, a former English teacher and field hockey coach at the school, faces several charges, including sexual assault and official misconduct, in connection with incidents that allegedly occurred between her and the student from January 2013 to June 2013. The hearing, before Judge Robert Gilson, is to decide what will be admissible during the trial.
The alleged victim and Leahey touched each other sexually “and they did other physical things in her classroom,” the witness told Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Meg Rodriguez. “He also told me she took him home with her after a volleyball game.”
Leahey has pleaded not guilty to the charges and her attorney, Stephanie Forbes, said she plans to file a motion to dismiss the charges by a Jan. 9, 2015 deadline set by the judge.
Forbes is also seeking to subpoena what authorities have alleged were sexually explicit text messages exchanged between the pair.
The former student was one of three people to testify on Tuesday morning. Parsippany Hills High football coach Dave Albano and another former classmate of the alleged victim, also testified. Two other witnesses are scheduled to testify in the afternoon.
The former student said he learned of the alleged relationship between his friend and Leahey when he and the friend were playing video games in late January or early February.
“He told me he was talking to a girl,” the former student testified.”He made me guess who it was. I said a sophomore, junior, senior? Then, I said, ‘Was it a teacher?’ and he got really quiet.”
The former student said the alleged victim showed him text messages and “sort of nude” pictures that Leahey send him.
But neither that former student nor the second to testify Tuesday said the alleged victim had sexual intercourse with Leahey. Both would only say that the victim told them he was “talking to” Leahey, and in high school “talking to” means dating. They said on the occasions they saw the alleged victim in Leahey’s classroom she never seemed uncomfortable.
Albano testified that the alleged victim and the first former student came to him on June 7, 2013 and told him of the relationship. Rumors were circulating around the school and the alleged victim wanted to get ahead of the story, the former student testified.
Albano also said the alleged victim told him he was “talking to” Leahey. Albano said he asked the alleged victim if he had slept with Leahey and he said “no, not yet.” Albano said the alleged victim told him they had “kissed” and “made out” and “were fooling around in the car” when Leahey took him home after a volleyball game. He added that the alleged victim said they were “sexting” or talking dirty via text messages.
“He was scared and nervous,” Albano said of the alleged victim during their conversation.
Although Forbes has said the alleged victim had assaulted Leahey, Albano testified that the alleged victim was in Leahey’s classroom daily, even though he didn’t have her as a teacher, and she never seemed annoyed.
Once, he asked Leahey if she wanted the alleged victim to leave and she “chuckled” and waved him off, Albano said.
Both the prosecutor and defense agreed that Leahey counseled the young man following the death of his aunt from cancer and they began texting in a cell phone game, but the two sides dispute what happened next.