MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT—A former Upper East Side headmistress and teacher who was convicted in 2007 of a sexual affair with an underage student and of falsely accusing him of rape is heading to prison after years of legal wrangling.
Lina Sinha, 46, a teacher for 16 years at the Montessori International School of New York — a school her parents founded — was sentenced to two and one-third to seven years for sodomy and other charges related to her nine-year-long sexual relationship with a student, which started when he was just 13-years-old.
"This is a woman of every advantage, and she preyed on her victim for years," said Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman Monday before sentencing Sinha. "She hijacked his life as a child."
Sinha's bizarre case grabbed headlines five years ago as the details of her affair were unearthed during trial.
Prosecutors argued that Sinha seduced a 13-year-old eighth grader in 1996 and that the two carried on a relationship for more than nine years.
When the victim, who'd by then become a police officer, tried to break up with her in 2004, she lobbed a false rape accusation against him, prosecutors said. That prompted the victim, then 24 years old — who's name has been withheld — to come forward with their relationship.
Prosecutors also claimed Sinha abused another young boy in 2001 and tried to bribe him to lie to investigators about their liason.
In 2007, a jury found Sinha guilty for abusing the first boy, and for bribing the second boy. She was sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. But last year, an appeals court overturned the bribery conviction.
Before her sentencing Monday, Sinha tearfully told the judge that her life and her family's lives have been devastated since her arrest in 2005.
"If you deem it fit for me to go to prison, then that is what I will do," she said, adding that both she and her family have burned through their life savings over the past eight years.
She also said she had every advantage in life and became an educator to "give back to the community."
Sinha's lawyer Gerald Shargel asked the judge for mercy in sentencing, characterizing Sinha's relationship with her young student as a "love affair" and detailing Sinha's health problems.
But prosecutors called Sinha's actions "heinous and manipuliative."
Prosecutors also said that Sinha, who has been out on bail since her conviction, has been quite active, doing charity work and even running a marathon, according to her own website.
The judge, who said she considered her sentence "lenient," did not offer sympathy.
"She did try to destroy his life," Berkman said. "So time has passed, but the victim has not regained the childhood the defendant has stolen for him, and I presume he never will."