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Charges upgraded for SWR teacher who had sexual encounters with student

The Shoreham-Wading River math teacher accused of having a sexual-relationship with a 15-year-old student was arraigned earlier this month on a 12-count grand jury indictment that includes a top charge of promoting a sexual performance by a child, according to court records obtained by the News-Review.

Veronica Pezdan, 28, was returned to jail following the arraignment after not posting the $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond set by Acting Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Chris Ann Kelley, court records show.

Ms. Pezdan is accused of having sexual intercourse with the male student on March 24 and April 8, according to the indictment, which includes five counts of third-degree rape and five more counts of third-degree criminal sexual act.

A spokesperson for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office said the top charge, a class D felony carrying a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, relates to allegations that Ms. Pezdan asked the victim to send her explicit photos.

Ms. Pezdan was arrested by Suffolk County Police Department Seventh Precinct detectives shortly before noon April 19 on William Floyd Parkway in Shoreham after she received a letter from the district informing her that her employment was being terminated, according to a police statement attached to the indictment.

She told police that “something happened outside of school” and that she’d “rather not say what happened with [victim’s name],” according to the statement, which was unsigned.

“I told my fiancé and he is trying not to hate me,” Ms. Pezdan allegedly told detectives. “He doesn’t know the whole story.” She then asked for an attorney.

Details in the final count of the indictment, misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child, allege the teacher’s conduct with the student began in late February or early March and continued until April 16.

In a statement the afternoon of her arrest, SWR Superintendent Gerard Poole said the teacher will no longer be employed by the district, “effective immediately.”

“The Administration and Board of Education are deeply concerned about these allegations,” Mr. Poole said. “Please be assured that the District does not tolerate and condemns such behaviors. The District is fully cooperating with authorities.”

The termination followed a tip from a staff member about an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student, which first triggered an internal investigation, Mr. Poole had said.

Ms. Pezdan began at SWR in 2018 after having graduated St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue in 2017. She is a graduate of Sachem North High School.

Ms. Pezdan was indicted by a grand jury April 23 and arraigned May 7, records show. She is due back in court June 8.