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Indian American gets 14 years in jail

Former principal Lina Sinha has been accused of having sex with students.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2007 15:20 IST

A US court has sentenced a former Indian American headmistress of an exclusive Manhattan Montessori school to a maximum of 14 years in prison for a sex liaison with an underage male student.

Pronouncing the sentence, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Carol Berkman said Lina Sinha's offences become all the more "culpable" as she comes from an advantageous background.

"She is intelligent, educated, well-raised, hardworking and beautiful, and she is a predator. She abused the position of trust she had with the victim. She took a great deal, I think, from (the victim)," the judge observed.

Sinha has two master's degrees from Columbia University.

The victim, now a 24-year policeman, had alleged that he was only 13 when Sinha, more than twice his age, began sexual relations with him saying that she loved him and that one day they would marry.

She, he said, taught him to reach her bedroom above the school by sneaking past the security cameras installed by her parents, who owned the institution. She stocked her room with video games and kept him there weekends at a time.

The prosecution said the two had sexual intercourse for the first time when the boy was 15. They allegedly met at a number of places including a school van and their relationship ended when the student was transferred to another school at age 17.

Assistant District Attorney Florence Chapin asked Berkman to sentence her to the maximum possible time. Sinha could be paroled after about five years.

Her lawyer Gerald Shargel said he would file an appeal against the conviction and the judge allowed her to remain free on a bail of 3.5 million dollars bail while her lawyers appeal the decision.

The Sinha family owns several businesses in New York including a travel agency and a spice shop.

First Published: Apr 20, 2007 11:55 IST