Female Pennsylvania Teacher Who Asked Student to be Her 'Secret Girlfriend,' Had Inappropriate Relationship with Her, Sentenced to Prison

Emily Lehneis
Emily Lehneis Facebook

A former Pennsylvania teacher will serve time behind bars for engaging in a sexual relationship with a high school student. Emily Lehneis, 30, of Hanover, was sentenced to one to two years in prison for the crime.

"I want . . . her family to know how sorry I am for what I did," Lehneis said at her sentencing hearing on Tuesday, according to the York Dispatch. "I have no excuse for what I did, and I cannot understand how I let myself do what I did."

Lehneis Kissed the Student in Her Classroom, Placed a Name Tag on Her Pubic Area in a 'Flirtatious Way'

The 31-year-old, who is pregnant with her third child and due in March, worked as a special education teacher at Susquehannock High School in York County. She was arrested in May after a six-month investigation.

In September 2022, the student was visiting Lehneis' classroom in between school hours and sports practice. The 16 or 17-year-old teen told police she was "stunned" when the teacher gave her a long mouth-to-mouth kiss as she was about to leave. She said she didn't know how to respond and left. She told police she was not OK with it.

In another interaction, Lehneis allegedly put a name tag on the student's body near her pubic area "in a flirtatious way," according to Fox 43.

Lehneis Also Exchanged Explicit Text Messages, Photos

Lehneis allegedly asked the teen to be her "secret girlfriend" in October 2022; the student agreed to the arrangement even though she believed it was not appropriate, according to the York Daily Record. The teacher allegedly exchanged text messages and images of a sexual nature with the student, who ended the relationship within two weeks.

Police searched the student's cell phone and found several sexually explicit photographs and/or videos of Lehneis on Snapchat.

Victim: 'She Manipulated Me'

The victim wrote to the court about the ramifications of the relationship.

"She manipulated me and had total control. She used her marriage, family and career to keep me from saying anything," the victim said, according to the York Dispatch. "I'm trying to get by each day with breathing techniques and trying not to cry." The victim's mother told the court that her daughter continues to be bullied at school over what happened.

Prosecutors originally charged Lehneis with unlawful contact with a minor, obscenity, institutional sexual assault, solicitation to production of child pornography and corruption of minors.

In September, she pleaded guilty to just two charges: felony institutional sexual assault and a misdemeanor charge of corruption of minors. The remaining charges were dismissed.

Lehneis also must serve five years on probation and register as a sex offender. She will not be allowed to have contact with other minors except her own.