A high-school teacher who was jailed for performing sex acts on her underage students has blamed her strict Islamic upbringing for her crimes.
Linda Hardan, a substitute teacher at Manchester Regional High School in 2014, was sentenced last Monday to three years in prison after sending scores of sexually explicit text messages to several pupils, aged 14 to 16 years-old in 2014, and then engaging in sex acts with them.
Alissa Hascup, her defense lawyer, said the Muslim woman was driven in part to commit the offences due to her strict religious upbringing, and suggested that she be treated by a therapist as oppose 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, after hearing tearful pleas from members of Hardan’s family, along with arguments from defense lawyer Alissa Hascup and Assistant Prosecutor Gyselle Da Silva, Passaic County Superior Court Judge Miguel de la Carrera found enough evidence to depart from the plea deal and instead impose a three-year sentence.
Hardan wept quietly as she heard members of her family plead to the judge that she was “the foundation, the rock” of her family and that they would be devastated if she were to be sent to prison.
North Jersey reports:
She had been held under virtual house arrest since she was charged, wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet on her ankle and allowed to leave only for meetings with her lawyer, for doctors’ appointments, and to attend religious services.
Hascup argued that her sexual activities with students had been in part a result of her strict religious upbringing, and suggested that serving time in prison would do no good, asking that she be treated by a therapist under strict supervision instead.
But Da Silva focused on the harm she had done to the students she had sex with, telling the judge that they had suffered the consequences of her advances.
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 prosecutor 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.
Before passing sentence, de la Carrera noted that Hardan appeared to have a sheltered and stunted emotional development because of her strict upbringing. “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.”
The judge presiding over the case reportedly added, “There might be a wish for the law to be more nuanced, a wish that the law might be different, but it’s not.”
Just as ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it, a strict cultural upbringing is not justification for sexually assaulting a minor. The law is the law for a reason — to protect innocent people. This woman got what she deserved. Although, I would argue that she deserved a longer prison sentence.
H/T [Conservative Tribune]