N.Y. teacher charged with rape

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NEW YORK (AP) – A female teacher and director at a Montessori school, already charged with the statutory rape and sodomy of a male pupil, has been indicted on similar charges involving a second boy, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Lina Sinha, 40, began having sex with the second pupil at the exclusive Manhattan school, which encourages pupils to learn and develop their creativity at their own pace, when he was 12, Assistant District Attorney Florence Chapin told the court. Sinha began sex liaisons with the first boy, now a city police officer, when he was 13 and she was 29, the prosecutor said, adding that the liaisons lasted for years.

Chapin disclosed the case of the second boy during a hearing in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court in which she told Justice Carol Berkman that Sinha is now charged with 81 crimes. Chapin asked the judge to set the teacher’s bail at $100,000.

Sinha’s lawyer, Gerald Shargel, objected to the request for any bail, saying his client had appeared for every court date, was born and raised in New York and educated in the city’s schools, including Columbia University, and would not flee.

The judge set bail for Sinha, who had been free in her own recognizance, at $50,000 and scheduled her next court date for Aug. 16.

Sinha posted the bail immediately.

The judge also granted Chapin’s request to issue orders of protection that bar Sinha from contacting her former pupils, who are now 23 and 18.

Shargel argued that it was “ridiculous” to issue an order of protection for a 23-year-old police officer, especially one who is a member of the police department’s boxing team.

Chapin said Sinha, on administrative leave from the school, began a sexual relationship with the first pupil in June 1996, when he was a 13-year-old eighth-grader. She was charged in October 2005 with raping him.

When he tried to end the affair in 2004, Chapin said, Sinha tried to ruin his life “by making up heinous allegations that he raped a young girl and then made separate allegations that he also brutally assaulted the defendant (Sinha).”

Sinha assumed another person’s identity on at least 10 occasions in 2004-05 to file rape charges in person, by telephone and by e-mail claiming the policeman raped her niece, the prosecutor said.

Investigators found the person whose identity Sinha had assumed and that person said she did not have a niece, had never reported any rape and did not know the victim or the defendant, the prosecutor said.

The officer reported his former relationship with Sinha to police after the teacher tried to frame him and about a week before the five-year statute of limitations on her sex crimes would have expired, the prosecutor said.

Prosecutors said Sinha could not be charged with improper sexual contact with her former pupil after he turned 17 because that is the age of consent in New York state.

Meanwhile, in January 2001, Sinha began a sexual liaison with the second pupil, who was 12 and in the seventh grade, Chapin said.

Sinha, a teacher for 16 years at the Montessori International School of New York, established on East 55th Street by her parents in 1969, tried to hide the second boy’s identity by withholding his records when the district attorney’s office subpoenaed them in 2005, Chapin said.

She also tried to bribe the youth by taking him shopping for sneakers, buying him a prepaid telephone and giving him $400 cash, Chapin said.

Besides rape and sodomy, Sinha is charged with criminal impersonation, bribing a witness, tampering with physical evidence, endangering the welfare of a child and falsely reporting an incident. If convicted on the rape or sodomy charges, she would face up to 25 years in prison.

AP-ES-05-30-06 1701EDT

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