Ex-Shoreham-Wading River Teacher Spared Jail for Having Sex With Student
UPDATE 3/24/22: Veronica Pezdan has been registered as a level 2 sex offender, suggesting “moderate risk of repeat offense,” with no further designation — meaning she was not deemed a sexual predator, nor was she determined to be sexually violent. All level 2 sex offenders must register for life. However, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, a level 2 sex offender who has not received a designation of sexual predator, sexually violent offender or predicate sex offender (a sex offender who has been convicted of a sex offense when the offender has been previously convicted of a sex offense), may, after a minimum of 30 years, file for relief of continued registration if a court deems it safe and appropriate.
A 28-year-old former Shoreham/Wading River High School teacher was spared jail time after she admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old male student for a two-month span last year.
Veronica Pezdan, a Holbrook resident who taught mathematics part time at the school, was sentenced by Suffolk County Judge Steven Pilewski to 10 years of probation after she pleaded guilty in December to a charge of third-degree rape. She had faced a maximum of four years in prison. Ten other counts were dropped in exchange for her plea.
“We are grateful for a fair sentencing agreement on behalf of our client despite the significant permanent collateral consequences for Veronica,” her Huntington-based attorney John LoTurco said. “Veronica’s career and reputation are essentially extinguished for being compelled to register as a sex offender. However, from the inception Veronica was highly remorseful and accepted responsibility by enrolling in therapy including subjecting herself to a forensic risk assessment evaluation to determine future risk of recidivism.”
Pilewski also issued a permanent order of protection for her to stay away from the victim but reserved his decision on what level Pezdan will be classified as in the sex offender registry. The levels from one, given to those least likely to commit another crime, to three, for those most likely. LoTurco maintained she is unlikely to be a recidivist.
“This inappropriate relationship was an aberration, and … Veronica is a very low risk to reoffend,” LoTurco said. “In the end, a sentence of probation was an equitable resolution, and we are hopeful that both Veronica and the victim will both eventually heal from the ramifications of our client’s actions.”
The Shoreham-Wading River School District had said a staff member tipped off the district to the allegations, which triggered an internal investigation before Suffolk County police were contacted. Special Victims Section detectives later arrested the teacher as she drove home from the school. The school district, which noted that the teacher passed New York State background checks prior to being hired, fired her immediately after her arrest.
A spokeswoman for Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney declined to comment on the sentencing.