A former Wantagh High School teacher guilty of having had sex with a 16-year-old boy was released on bail Saturday after her arraignment on new charges that she violated a restraining order by sending three letters to the teenager last year while she was in jail.
Nassau police arrested Heather Kennedy, 26, of Massapequa, at 2 a.m. at her grandmother's home. At her arraignment Saturday afternoon in First District Court in Hempstead, Kennedy, who appeared tired and pale, pleaded not guilty to three counts of criminal contempt.
Kennedy's parents paid the $15,000 bail set by Judge Susan Kleuwer. She and her parents declined comment as they left the courthouse.
Yesterday's events were yet another twist in the nearly yearlong case concerning Kennedy and the student at the high school where for three years she taught mathematics.
Kennedy had just been released from the Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow on Friday, the same day she was sentenced to six months on her guilty plea to five counts of third-degree rape and other sex offenses, all stemming from her contact with the teenager.
She was released Friday because the six-month sentence amounted to time already served. Kennedy had been jailed since July 22, because, while awaiting sentencing on a guilty plea for her first arrest last March, she and the teenager had several more encounters in violation of a court restraining order.
Authorities said they became aware Friday night that Kennedy had written and sent the letters while in jail..
Steven Zimmer of Hauppauge, Kennedy's lawyer, questioned Saturday why the letters came to light just after his client's release.
"These allegations are from six to seven months ago. ... Why coincidentally these charges were filed the day she got out is a mystery," he said. "We'd like to get her the help she needs."
At Kennedy's sentencing Friday, Zimmer had told County Court Judge Joseph Calabrese that the teenager had continued to try to contact his client.
Eric Phillips, a spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney's office, said the letters were written on Aug. 17, Sept. 2 and Sept. 11 of 2008.
He declined to say what Kennedy had written in the letters, which he said were given to the teen by a third party. He would not name that third person.
Acting Sheriff Michael Sposato said no jail procedure except a court order revoking all of Kennedy's mail privileges would have prevented her from using a third party to relay the letters.
Lt. Michael Golio of the Nassau jail said state correction rules prohibit officers from reading an inmate's mail absent a court order directing them to do so.
Kennedy first was arrested March 26 after the 16-year-old confessed to his father that he had had sex with Kennedy in a car in the school parking lot.
Kennedy now must register as a Level 3 sex offender and surrender her teaching license. She is under a restraining order, issued Friday, to refrain from any contact with the student until 2013.