New Jersey High School Teachers, Administrators Charged with Misconduct and Sex Crimes

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New Jersey High School Teachers, Administrators Charged with Misconduct and Sex Crimes

High school teachers having sex with their students is never, ever a good idea. You would think that with all the well-publicized arrests that are seen in the media every year, and several very high profile criminal cases in recent memory, high school teachers would be more cautious of the tone of their relationships with their students. Instead, school campuses across the nation seem to have become fertile soil for sexual predators and adults with particularly bad judgment. In a recent case in the state of New Jersey, a group of high school teachers and even school administrators are now facing criminal charges not only for potential sex crimes, but also for hiding and covering up the allegations of them. At Triton High School in Runnemede, New Jersey, an unnamed student mentioned to a substitute teacher last April that students and teachers at the school had been “hooking up.” The substitute teacher reported the conversation to the school’s principal, Catherine DePaul. When DePaul later met with the student, the student claimed that she believed another student was having a sexual relationship with one of the school’s teachers, and that she had seen several sexually explicit text messages that the two had exchanged. DePaul opted not to contact the school board or local law enforcement agencies. Instead, she enlisted the school’s Assistant Principal, Jernee Kollock, to help the student draft a written account of what she knew. Kollock even helped the student correct her grammar. Kollock unfortunately also down-played the situation to the student and made it seem less serious than it was.

Around the same time, DePaul learned that another teacher had driven an alleged victim and another student to Ocean City, which directly violated the school district’s policy. DePaul went to her superiors with this information, but never told them about other allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of her teachers. According to reports, she instead told at least one school employee to simply erase several text message exchanges with students from his phone.

DePaul and Kollock have both been charged with official misconduct. Three male teachers have been charged with official misconduct as well as several other sex crimes. Dan Michielli, who is a 27-year-old math teacher, was charged with sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual conduct. Michielli is said to have had intercourse with a female student multiple times during the course of the school year. Nick Martinelli, who is 28 years old and the boys’ soccer coach, allegedly touched and kissed a female student, then had intercourse with her after she graduated from the school. Girls’ track coach Jeff Logandro, who is 32 years old, was charged with criminal sexual conduct and endangering the welfare of a child after allegedly inappropriately touching a female student. All three teachers were suspended last month by the Black Horse Regional School District while DePaul and Kollock were suspended last week. All five defendants are facing up to five years in prison if convicted.

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