A 22-year-old former substitute teacher from New Jersey has been sentenced to three years in prison for sexting several teenage students and performing sex acts on them.
Linda Hardan of Prospect Park pleaded guilty to the crimes in a plea deal that would have given her a five-year prison sentence, according to Daily Mail.
Hardan's attorney argued that the defendant's strict religious upbringing should be seen as a mitigating factor. She proposed Hardan be treated by a therapist under strict supervision instead.
Judge Miguel de la Carrera reduced the plea deal prison sentence to three years.
"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," de la Carrera said. "She did not learn how to interact with guys her age."
Hardan's family members also pleaded for leniency, saying she was the "rock" of the family and they would be devastated if she went to prison.
The judge explained that he had little choice but to impose a prison sentence. He denied a request for the sentence to be delayed until Hardan had completed her studies in May.
"There might be a wish for the law to be more nuanced, a wish that the law might be different, but it's not," de la Carrera noted.
In one incident mentioned in court, Hardan sent 40 selfies to a 14-year-old boy "in varying states of undress." She then drove the boy to a waterfall and performed a sex act on him.
The student was "so upset, so disgusted that he got out of the car and walked home" 2 miles away.
A 16-year-old student was so traumatized by Hardan's actions he dropped out of school and never returned.
Hardan has been held under virtual house arrest since being charged. She had to wear an electronic tag and was only permitted to leave the home for meetings with her attorney, doctor's appointments and religious services, NorthJersey.com reported.
She will be able to apply for parole after one year, but will remain on probation for the rest of her life.