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5 charged in alleged teacher-student relationships at New Jersey high school

By Nina Melendez, CNN
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu October 4, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Three male teachers are accused of having sexual relationships with students
  • The principal and a vice-principal are accused of protecting the teachers
  • Principal was told "teachers and students were hooking up," authorities say

(CNN) -- Three New Jersey high school teachers were arrested Thursday on charges of having sexual relations with three students, according to the Camden County Office of the Prosecutor. The principal and vice-principal also were arrested and accused of failing to report the inappropriate relationships to the proper authorities, Prosecutor Warren Faulk said at a press conference.

Jeff Logandro, 32, Dan Michelli, 27, both math teachers at Triton Regional High School in Runnemede, were arrested, along with physical education teacher Nick Martinelli, 28.

The arrests come after a two-month investigation. According to a statement released by the prosecutor's office, a student informed a substitute teacher in April about inappropriate relationships between male teachers and female students. The substitute teacher then notified Principal Catherine DePaul, 55, who, "in contravention to her legal responsibilities, failed to contact local law enforcement or the state Division of Children and Families and inform either of the allegations," the statement said.

Instead, DePaul met with the female student who told her that "teachers and students were hooking up," the criminal complaint states. According to the prosecutor's statement, DuPaul asked the student to write an account of the allegations. Vice-Principal Jernee Kollock, 39, "stayed in the room with the student, advised her on what to write and corrected versions of the student's account."

Prosecutors said Kollock admitted that she tried to protect the teachers.

The suspects were released on their own recognizance, with their next court date set for October 13.

"There existed a culture at Triton High School where teachers thought they could get away with inappropriate relations with students," Faulk told reporters Thursday.

The prosecutor's office would not specify how the allegations of sexual misconduct first came to its attention.

The prosecutor's office said the three men engaged in sexual activity with three female students on numerous occasions from November 2011 to June 2012.

Logandro and Michelli are charged with official misconduct, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. Because the student with whom Martinelli allegedly had sex was 18, Martinelli is charged only with official misconduct.

The other two students were 17 at the time of the alleged relationships.

Under New Jersey law, there cannot be a rape charge for a student older than 16 who consents, Faulk said.

The Black Horse Pike Regional School District issued a statement saying it would "take corrective action and all disciplinary measures under the law when there is evidence of any staff misconduct."

"We are saddened and deeply disappointed by the allegations of what took place at Triton High School," the statement said. "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."

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