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Former Franklin Regional teacher pleads guilty to 'sexting' charges

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Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011

A former social studies teacher at Franklin Regional High School pleaded guilty on Tuesday to child endangerment charges for sending sexually explicit text messages to a student last year.

Terrence Flaherty, 59, formerly of Penn Hills, was arrested last year after one of his students told police that he received a series of text messages from the teacher.

Flaherty was sentenced by Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec to serve seven years of probation. The judge ordered Flaherty to to surrender his teaching certificate, undergo drug and alcohol treatment and sex offender treatment, and to have no contact with the school dstrict.

In January, after the charges were filed against him, Flaherty retired from his teaching position, which he had held for three decades.

The student claimed Flaherty of Jeannette propositioned him and asked the boy to send a picture of his genitals in exchange for a $100 loan that the teacher tendered.

According to court records, Flaherty followed his "sexting" messages with another text to the boy in which he claimed he was intoxicated when he sent them.

Police said 64 text messages were sent to the student from Flaherty's phone from Nov. 11 to Nov. 14, 2010.

Following his preliminary hearing in February, Flaherty denied that he sent the messages, and defense attorney Duke George told reporters that he knew the identify of the person who did.

Despite those claims, Flaherty pleaded guilty yesterday to the felony child endangerment charge and two misdemeanor counts of corruption of a minor and harassment. Prosecutors dropped other sex-related charges against Flaherty.

"He pleaded guilty because it was in his best interest," George said. "The alleged victim had a very father-like arrangement with my client. This guy tried to mentor him."

George said the defense still believes someone else sent the text messages but has been unable to locate that person.

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