Three teachers from Triton Regional High School in Runnemede, New Jersey have been arrested and accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with three female students.
Teachers Jeffrey Logandro, Daniel Michielli and Nicholas Martinelli voluntarily turned themselves into authorities on Thursday. Two of the student victims were 17 years old and the third was 18 years old.
Principal Catherine DePaul and Vice Principal Jernee Kollock are also facing charges of official misconduct for allegedly knowing about these sexual allegations and not reporting them to law enforcement.
"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.
Logandro, 32, of Nicole Court in Blackwood, is charged with official misconduct, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. He is a math teacher and a girls' track coach.
Michielli, 27, of Wimbledon Way in Blackwood, is charged with official misconduct, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual contact. He is a math teacher and a boys' soccer coach.
Martinelli, 28, of Windsor Drive in Cherry Hill, is accused of official misconduct. Prosecutors say his victim was 18 years old and that's why he's not facing any other charges. Martinelli is a physical education teacher.
Prosecutors says the three teachers were friends, and the relationships they had with the students lasted from November 2011 until June 2012. All three female students graduated in June.
"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," said Faulk.
School policy prohibits teachers from socializing outside of school and communicating by phone or text message.
The teachers are also accused of taking a trip to Ocean City, N.J. with the victims over a school break.
"This is the first time that I'm aware of that we have three different teachers with three different students all in the same school year and the student victims were friendly with each other and the teachers were friendly with each other," said Faulk.
The arrests were made after a two month investigation by the Camden County Prosecutors Office.
All three teachers are currently on suspension. They are scheduled to appear in court on October 11.
The Black Horse Pike Regional School District issued the following statement in response to the arrests.
“We are saddened and deeply disappointed by the allegations of what took place at Triton High School. We expect our staff members to be professional, moral and ethical in all of their interactions with students, colleagues and community members. We will not tolerate any conduct that is inappropriate and unbecoming of a staff member. We will take corrective action and all disciplinary measures under the law when there is evidence of any staff misconduct. We encourage members of this school district and community to support each other through these difficult times, and look to a more positive tomorrow.”