NORRISTOWN >> A former Upper Dublin High School teacher began a jail term on Tuesday after a jury convicted her of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with an 18-year-old male student.
Rose Marie LiMuli, 40, of the 1500 block of North Line Street, Lansdale, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to two to 12 months in the county jail on two felony counts of institutional sexual assault in connection with incidents that occurred between November 2015 and April 2016 while she was an English teacher at the high school.
Under a sentencing order issued by Judge Joseph P. Walsh, who presided over the trial, LiMuli had to report to the jail on Tuesday to begin serving her sentence.
A jury convicted LiMuli of the charges during a trial in February.
Walsh said LiMuli also must complete three years’ probation following parole, meaning she will be under court supervision for a total of four years.
Walsh also ordered LiMuli to have no contact with the male student or his family as a condition of the sentence. The judge previously ordered LiMuli to have no contact with any student or former student of Upper Dublin High School.
With its verdict, the jury essentially found that LiMuli engaged in oral sex with the male student on one occasion and had indecent contact with the student on another occasion.
The jury of seven women and five men acquitted LiMuli of 10 other counts of institutional sexual assault involving nine other alleged incidents of oral sex and one alleged incident of intercourse with the teenager.
Assistant District Attorney James Price, who alleged at trial that LiMuli fostered a relationship with the student by buying him expensive gifts in order to turn him into “a sex object,” sought jail time against LiMuli. Price argued LiMuli breached a trust as a teacher.
Under state laws for institutional sexual assault, even though the teenager was 18 at the time of the incidents, it is still illegal for an employee of a school to have sexual contact with a student.
But LiMuli testified at trial she had no sexual contact with the teenager and that he was blackmailing her. During the trial, defense lawyer Matthew Sedacca maintained the teenager’s trial testimony was inconsistent at times with testimony he gave at previous hearings and that his testimony could not be trusted.
During the trial, the 2016 Upper Dublin High School graduate testified LiMuli bought him clothes, a dirt bike, athletic gear and alcohol while she engaged in a sexual relationship with him during the time he was a senior. The former student, who is now in college, said what started as a friendly relationship “turned into a sexual relationship.”
The teenager, 18 at the time of the incidents, testified the pair exchanged phone calls and text messages and chats through the online social media site Snapchat. LiMuli also fondled him in a private area of her classroom out of sight of other students, the teenager testified.
LiMuli, who taught previously at Sandy Run Middle School, also gave him access to her credit card number to purchase food which he sometimes shared with friends, according to the teenager’s testimony.
LiMuli eventually made sexual advances toward him, fondled him and told him, “I want it,” the teenager testified.
The teenager, who said he didn’t have any affection for LiMuli, claimed he had about 10 sexual encounters with the teacher during the five month period. LiMuli, the teenager claimed, performed oral sex on him numerous times while parked at a local dog park and had intercourse with him one time when she visited his Dresher residence while his mother was not at home.
But when she testified, LiMuli, a married mother of one child, adamantly denied that she ever had a sexual relationship with the teenager.
LiMuli claimed the teenager, while in her classroom, accessed information stored on her cellphone and other electronic devices and used the information to purchase items through an online shopping site. LiMuli claimed the teenager revealed he had also read online exchanges she had with another man with whom she had a relationship and the teenager threatened to expose the relationship to LiMuli’s husband unless she continued to buy him things.
But Price questioned why LiMuli didn’t go to police or school administrators when the teenager made threats. Price pointed out LiMuli, even when questioned by police during the investigation, never mentioned any allegations of being blackmailed by the student. LiMuli revealed the blackmail allegations for the first time during her testimony at trial.
Testimony revealed the investigation began after rumors about the relationship circulated at the high school and township detectives were contacted. Upper Dublin Detective Michael Scarpato investigated the case.
LiMuli was placed on administrative leave by the school district in April 2016 pending the outcome of an investigation after the relationship was reported to police. In a May 2, 2016, letter to parents, following the teacher’s arrest, district Superintendent Deborah Wheeler said LiMuli had been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.