Three teachers are accused of having sex with students, while two school administrators face charges for covering up the scandal. WCAU's LuAnn Cahn reports.
Three New Jersey high school teachers have been arrested and accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with three female students, while two school administrators face charges for allegedly covering up the scandal, authorities said Thursday.
Teachers Jeffrey Logandro, Daniel Michielli and Nicholas Martinelli of Triton High School in the Philadelphia suburb of Runnemede voluntarily turned themselves into the authorities on Thursday, NBCPhiladelphia.com reported.
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Principal Catherine DePaul and Vice Principal Jernee Kollock also facing charges of official misconduct for allegedly knowing about the sexual allegations and not reporting them to law enforcement.
Each of the five adults has been suspended from the school, and each could face at least five years in prison if convicted.
'Explicit text messages'
The teachers — all men in their late 20s or early 30s — are accused of striking up relationships with female students during the 2011-2012 school year. The female students were 17 or 18 at the time and graduated in June, NBCPhiladelphia.com reported.
"It's obvious there existed a culture at Triton High School whereby teachers thought they could get away with improper relationships with their students and administrators turned a blind eye," said Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk at a Thursday afternoon press conference.
"The improper relationships between the teachers and students were fostered through social media as well as socializing in person outside the school. Indeed we uncovered evidence of sexually explicit text messages during instructional periods," Faulk said.
Prosecutors say the three teachers were friends, and the relationships they had with the students lasted from November 2011 until June 2012. The teachers are also accused of taking a trip to Ocean City, N.J. with the victims over a school break.
School policy prohibits teachers from socializing outside of school and communicating by phone or text message.
The arrests were made after a two-month investigation by the Camden County Prosecutors Office.
'Hooking up' with students
According to court documents, math teacher Dan Michielli, 27, of Blackwood, had intercourse with a student multiple times during the school year. He is charged with official misconduct, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual conduct.
Gym teacher and boys' soccer coach Nick Martinelli, 28, of Cherry Hill, is charged with official misconduct involving an 18-year-old. He allegedly touched and kissed the girl when she was a student and had intercourse with her after she graduated in June.
Math teacher and girls' track coach Jeff Logandro, 32, of Blackwood, is charged with official misconduct, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. A court filing says he inappropriately touched a female student.
Authorities say a student, not one of the alleged victims, told a substitute teacher in April that teachers were "hooking up" with students. Authorities say the substitute teacher then told DePaul.
Prosecutors say the principal met with the student, who told her she'd been to one of the teacher's homes with a girl who was involved with him and had seen the explicit text messages. Authorities say that DePaul asked her to write an account of what she had heard and that Assistant Principal Jernee Kollock stayed with the student to help her write the statement, even helping her with her grammar — but also making it seem less serious.
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Around the same time, Faulk said, DePaul learned one of the teachers had driven an alleged victim and another student to Ocean City in violation of district policy. But, he said, the teacher was merely reprimanded.
Faulk said neither administrator contacted authorities. Both were charged with official misconduct.
Faulk said DePaul later said she wished she had been more concerned for the students than the teachers.
The defendants either could not be reached or did not return messages left Thursday afternoon by The Associated Press. All five are due in court Oct. 11.
The teachers were suspended by the Black Horse Regional School District last month; the administrators were suspended Thursday. Superintendent John Golden said in a statement that the district was cooperating with authorities, notifying families of students of what allegedly happened and offering counseling.
"In addition, we have initiated a comprehensive review of our existing policies, protocols and training and education materials to prevent this from happening again at this or any district school," the statement said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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