Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ringgold Latest to Be Rocked by Sex Scandal Police Charge Former Guidance Counselor

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ringgold Latest to Be Rocked by Sex Scandal Police Charge Former Guidance Counselor

Article excerpt

A trail of months-old text messages, followed by a police investigation that discovers an inappropriate relationship between an educator and a student: It's a story line that's becoming all too familiar.

At Plum High School, police have charged two teachers with crimes involving students. At Norwin High School, an investigation is ongoing after what were described as inappropriate text messages were found between a teacher and a student.

It unfolded again Thursday in the Ringgold School District, where police announced they had filed charges against a former guidance counselor for allegedly having sex with a high school football player.

Rostraver police said Lianne Danko, 33, of Rostraver, was charged with three counts of institutional sexual assault.

According to a criminal complaint, Ms. Danko engaged in an inappropriate relationship between October and November with an 18- year-old male student who had been seeing her to discuss his relationship problems. The two began a sexual relationship sometime in November, police said.

Laura Manko, another guidance counselor at the high school, brought the relationship to the attention of school administrators in February after a friend of the student showed her text messages between the student and Ms. Danko, according to the complaint. Police said the report was made Feb. 18, and Ms. Danko was banned from school property and relieved of her duties.

Although the student was 18, Ms. Danko held a position of "power, authority and supervision that has statutory boundaries," according to the complaint.

A letter posted on the school district website explained the ongoing investigation to parents and guardians.

Ms. Danko's attorney, David J. Shrager, said he is anxious to defend the charges against his client, who has no previous criminal history.

"My understanding is that she's well-liked and respected in her community," he said.

Ms. Danko is free on $50,000 bond and her preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 29.

Ringgold superintendent Karen Polkabla said she believes the school took appropriate action by reporting the incident to law enforcement agencies as well as to the state Department of Education. …

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