Felony sexual assault charges have been levied against a Pennsylvania teacher in connection to her alleged involvement with one of her students. 31-year-old Emily Nesbit, an 11th grade English teacher at Cumberland Valley High School until her resignation earlier this week, has been charged with the third degree felony of a single count of institutional sexual abuse against her 18-year-old male student. The charge carries the possibility of incarceration for up to seven years. She was arrested upon her voluntary surrender and released on $100,000 unsecured bond and is expected to remain free until her formal arraignment is held on May 22.
The alleged sexual relationship came to light last Monday when apparently a fellow student saw sexual communications between the teacher and her alleged victim. The student reportedly informed school officials who immediately began to investigate the situation and placed Nesbit on administrative leave. She resigned soon thereafter.
Reports indicate that court records show that the alleged sexual relationship went on for several months. Police say that the Pennsylvania teacher charged with sexual assault sent her student multiple messages suggesting that she was interested in having sex with him and that the two also exchanged a number of text messages consisting of sexually suggestive photographs. According to police, Nesbit admitted to having performed a sex act with the student in her classroom where they met several times a week after school. The student reportedly acknowledged that they had held hands and kissed.
The student’s age of 18, above the age of consent for sex in Pennsylvania, is reportedly of no legal relevance to the case as the alleged sexual assault occurred between a high school teacher and a student and is, under any circumstances, illegal. The student is not facing any legal ramifications and reportedly has a strong support system in place to assist him as he moves forward from the alleged incidents and the fallout to come.
The District Attorney for Cumberland County involved in prosecuting the case, David Freed, said it was a simple decision to levy the charges against Nesbit. He also says that this is one of an increasing number of sexual assault cases he has seen involving school employees and their students. Freed says that this case is a good example of why parents and guardians should be monitoring the cell phones and the online activity of their children.
Following the investigation and the arrest of Nesbit, it has been reported that rumors were rampant at the school and in the community. At least one student reported feeling “weird” about it. Teachers report feeling disappointed and betrayed, and parents have reportedly expressed concern as well. Cumberland Valley School District Superintendent, Frederick Withum, says that counselors will be available to speak with concerned students in the wake of this Pennsylvania teacher being charged with sexual assault against her student. In a public statement, Withum said he knows that he and the Cumberland Valley community expect better of the school and hope that it can “reflect the best that society can be” going forward.
By Michele Wessel