‘Stole her sparkle’: Ex-Heritage band director gets probation for seducing student

Crime

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The former band director at Heritage Junior/Senior High School accused of fondling a student and ordering her to send him naked pictures in 2019 has been sentenced.

Josiah D. Pfenning, 31, of Fort Wayne was sentenced to 5 years probation, including 2 on an ankle monitor, for Child Seduction, as a Level 5 felony. Pfenning previously pleaded guilty to the charge.

According to a probable cause affidavit, police met with the girl in September 2019 after she claimed she’d been sexually abused and assaulted by her high school band director, Pfenning. The girl said their relationship started out “with a hug,” but “transitioned to kisses on the cheek and then eventually into an ‘actual kiss,’” the affidavit said.

From there, the girl said Pfenning asked her if kissing “could be our thing,” the affidavit said. She said “it” typically happened in Pfenning’s office or the band room or storage room.

The kissing progressed to touching and got “worse and worse,” the girl said, and Pfenning began touching her inappropriately, according to the affidavit. The girl said Pfenning fondled her.

Pfenning told the girl he loved her and promised they could do “a whole lot more” once she turned 18, the affidavit detailed.

The girl said the acts had taken place from April through September of 2019, the affidavit said.

The girl also said Pfenning asked her for naked pictures “because it would make him happy,” the affidavit said.

Pfenning told the girl to not to say anything because he would “be put away for a very long time,” according to the affidavit. He also told her to delete their conversations, the girl said.

Witnesses told investigators Pfenning and the girl had been “play flirting” and it was considered “awkward and weird,” the affidavit said.

In court Wednesday, the victim’s parents read a letter from their daughter that spoke about how Pfenning’s actions have negatively impacted her life.

“He is a sick man,” the letter said. “No punishment will ever be enough. No one should ever have to go through what I did. I will not let him destroy me because I am stronger than him.”

The victim’s mother told the court, “That pedophile stole her sparkle.” Her father said, “He took advantage of the system for his own sick pleasures. We’ll move forward from this but we will never forget.”

Pfenning apologized for the relationship, saying “I’m very sorry for everything that took place.”

As part of his sentence, Pfenning was ordered to pay $5,204.93 to the victim and her family. There is a no contact order in place. 

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