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Former Northern HS band director engaged to student
Northern High School's former band director is living with and engaged to a teen with whom he's accused of having a sexual relationship when she was his 17-year-old student, according to his defense attorney.
"They're planning to be married," attorney Rick Robinson said of Jeremy Leidhecker. "Her family is (supportive of) him."
At a preliminary hearing on Oct. 27, 2015, District Judge Richard Thomas determined enough evidence exists for Leidhecker to stand trial in York County Court. Thomas set formal court arraignment for Dec. 4.
Leidhecker, 28, of Williamsport, Lycoming County, remains free on unsecured bail, charged with institutional sexual assault and corruption of a minor, both third-degree felonies. He declined comment outside the hearing room.
His alleged victim did not testify in court and did not attend the hearing, but drove into the district judge's parking lot afterward and picked up her fiance and her mother. The York Dispatch is not naming the young woman, who is now 19.
Her mother attended Leidhecker's hearing, nodding or shaking her head emphatically in response to various testimony. Her reactions made it clear she supports Leidhecker, and she also declined comment after the hearing.
Two-year delay: During the hearing, Robinson questioned state police Trooper Jeffrey Gotwals, lead investigator in the case, about why it took so long for charges to be filed.
Gotwals confirmed no new evidence was uncovered since he investigated in October 2013.
"You were instructed by the district attorney's office not to file charges at that time?" Robinson asked, and the trooper said that was correct.
Gotwals also confirmed the York County District Attorney's Office recently instructed him to move forward with filing the charges, which happened last month.
Kyle King, spokesman for the DA's office, said in a text, "Our office was asked to re-review the matter by the Pennsylvania State Police, which led to charges being approved and ultimately filed."
Won't teach: "My client has no intention of teaching again," Robinson said after the hearing. "I would hope that reasonable minds prevail here," and a reasonable resolution can be reached.
He said his client was shocked when Gotwals called him last month to let him know charges were being filed. Robinson described Leidhecker and the alleged victim as "two people who want to get on with their lives."
The defense attorney told District Judge Thomas that "there seems to be somewhat of a corpus delicti issue" in the case, meaning a lack of concrete proof of a crime. He later explained that other than his client's statement to police, no eyewitnesses saw anything inappropriate.
During the preliminary hearing James Wills, Leidhecker's former neighbor on Glenview Circle in Franklintown, testified he saw the young woman get out of her car, put the hood of her sweatshirt over her head and go into Leidhecker's apartment on Sept. 28, 2013.
Wills said he heard moaning coming from Leidhecker's open bedroom window a short time later.
"It sounded like someone having sex," he testified.
Wills said Leidhecker and the girl later drove off in Leidhecker's car, with the girl apparently lying in the back seat.
Another former neighbor, Elaine Bieber, testified she notified at least three adults on the board of the high school's band association.
Bieber also testified she saw Leidhecker drive back to their condo complex and drop off the girl at an area not near her car perhaps about 9 p.m. Sept. 28, 2013. The girl ran to her car, jumped in and drove off, Bieber said.
Outside the district judge office, Bieber said she felt the alleged victim's mother gave her disapproving looks.
"I did the world a favor," Bieber said. "How do we know he wouldn't have done it to another child? My daughter is a student (there)."
Deputy prosecutor Tara Wikhian said she believes the case against Leidhecker can be successfully prosecuted whether the alleged victim cooperates or not.
"It doesn't change anything from our perspective," she said.
Leidhecker resigned from Northern York School District two days after his police interview, a district spokeswoman has said.
Leidhecker arranges and composes music for marching bands and music programs around the United States, according to his website.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.