By David Madden, Robin Riger and Todd Quinones
RUNNEMEDE, N.J. (CBS) — Criminal charges have been filed against three teachers and two administrators at Triton Regional High School in Runnemede following an investigation into sexual contact with students.
Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk says the arrests followed an investigation into alleged sexual contact involving Math teachers Jeff Logandro and Dan Michielli, both of Blackwood, and Physical Education instructor Nick Martinelli, of Cherry Hill, and three female students during their senior year last term. The victims of Michielli and Logandro were 17, while the victim of Martinelli was 18. Logandro is also is the girls track coach and Martinelli is a boys soccer coach.
Faulk says social media and social gatherings fostered the relationships that included, “exchanges of sexually explicit text messages during instructional periods periods and a trip to the shore.”
Faulk says Principal Catherine DePaul and Vice Principal Jernee Kollock learned of the affairs which allegedly occurred between November 2011 and June 2012 and failed to report them to Black Horse Pike Regional School District officials.
“The principal and vice principal, after learning of these improprieties, failed to report them to the proper authorities and conducted a half-hearted and inadequate inquiry aimed primarily at protecting the teachers and covering up their relationships with the students,” said Faulk.
Faulk described the culture at Triton High School following a two-month investigation as one where teachers thought they could get away with improper relationships with students and administrators turned a blind eye.
A student first reported the alleged affairs to a substitute teacher in April who Faulk says reported it to DePaul. DePaul did contact local law enforcement or the state Division of Children and Families, but rather met with the student and asked her to write down the account.
According to information released by Faulk, “When DePaul asked the female student to write an account of the allegations, Kollock stayed in the room with the student, advised her on what to write and corrected versions of the student’s account. According to a probable cause statement, DePaul told investigators she had tried to protect the teachers from the consequences of their actions.”
All five have been suspended from their jobs and face charges ranging from sexual assault against two of the instructors to official misconduct against all of them. The school district will now determine the status of the charged staff members.
The Black Horse Pike Regional School District, of which Triton High School is a part, issued the following statement.
“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.”
A court appearance for all defendants has been scheduled for October 11, but they are not required to be in attendance.