The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 14, 2021 1:00 am

Heritage teacher won't go to prison on seduction plea

2 years house arrest, 5 on probation

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

A former Heritage Junior-Senior High School band director who admitted having a relationship with a student won't serve time behind bars.

Allen Superior Court Judge Steven M. Godfrey on Wednesday handed Josiah Pfenning, 32, a five-year suspended sentence and five years' probation. Pfenning will serve two years on house arrest.

Pfenning pleaded guilty last month to child seduction, which carries a sentence of one to six years, with three years being the standard. As part of a plea deal, another child seduction charge and a charge of possession of child pornography were dropped.

Godfrey ordered Pfenning to have no contact with his victim for the term of his sentence and to pay restitution to the victim and her family for expenses as a result of the crime and subsequent criminal case. As required by Indiana law, Pfenning will register as a sexual offender, the Allen County prosecutor's office said.

“The victim's family spoke on her behalf and talked about the painful 17-month court process and the emotional toll Mr. Pfenning's actions took on their daughter,” the prosecutor's office said. “It was the family's wish for the court to accept this plea agreement so they could have closure for their family and work towards healing.”

Pfenning was charged in December 2019.

The girl told police Pfenning began pursuing her during her junior year of high school when she was 16 and continued throughout the summer and into the first week of school in September 2019.

Pfenning eventually told her he loved her and that when she turned 18, the two could start doing “a whole lot more,” court records said.

The encounters took place in the band director's office, band room and storage room, court records said.

Pfenning asked her to take photos of herself, eventually asking for photos of her without clothing. He told her what to send because “it would make him happy.”

Pfenning always told her not to say anything because he would “be put away for a very long time.” He also told her to make sure she deleted everything, including conversations they had on Instagram, court documents said.

On the Sept. 3, 2019, East Allen County Schools board meeting agenda, Pfenning's name appeared under certified resignations. His resignation had taken place Aug. 22. It was also noted that he'd taught for four years with the school district.

On Aug. 26, 2019, EACS Superintendent Marilyn Hissong sent a letter to parents saying that a teacher at Heritage had engaged in misconduct, that the proper authorities were investigating and that the teacher was no longer employed by the district. Tamyra Kelly, EACS spokeswoman, said Pfenning passed an expanded criminal history check when he was hired.

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