Five Staffers Busted In High School Sex Scandal
Five staff members including 3 teachers at Triton Regional High School in Runnemede have been charged with a number of crimes involving sex with students.
Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk says the school’s principal, Catherine DePaul, 55 and vice principal Jernee Kollock, 39, at Triton High School in Runnemede were charged with official misconduct for allegedly failing to report the relationships when they learned about them.
The teachers facing charges are: Jeff Logandro, 32, charged with Official Misconduct, Criminal Sexual Contact and Endangering the Welfare of a Child involving one victim; Nick Martinelli, 28, accused of Official Misconduct in a case involving a separate victim and Dan Michelli, 27, charged with Official Misconduct, Sexual Assault, Endangering the Welfare of a Child and Criminal Sexual Contact committed against a third victim.
DOCUMENT: Read the full charges (PDF)
Logandro and Michielli are math teachers and Martinelli is a physical education teacher. Logandro also is a girls’ track coach and Martinelli is a boys’ soccer coach.
All charged have been placed on administrative leave and their future employment has yet to be determined now that charges have been filed.
Faulk did not elaborate on what led to the charges but said the relationships between students, who were seniors, and the teachers were “fostered” via social media and socialization outside of school over a 7 month period.
The prosecutor’s office says a two-month investigation revealed a “permissive culture at Triton High School that allowed these crimes to take place unchecked.”
Despite school policy prohibiting teachers from socializing with students outside of school and communicating by phone or by text message, the charged teachers openly did both. It is alleged that throughout the past school year the defendants took a trip to the beach with the victims and exchanged sexually explicit text messages.
COVER UP BEGAN IN APRIL
According to the Faulk’s office, a female student told a substitute teacher at the school that there were teachers engaging in sexual contact with students. The substitute reported this information to DePaul who failed to contact local law enforcement or the state Division of Children and Families and inform either of the allegations.
DePaul met with the student who confided in the substitute teacher and is alleged to have heard first-hand the allegations of improper relations between teachers and students. 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.
Black Horse Regional School District superintendent John F. Golden says the district is cooperating with authorities and reviewing its policies. In a statement on the district website, Golden says “we have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior of any kind” and is notifying parents of the situation. Counseling will also be offered for any students or staff needing it.
Special Announcement from the Superintendent
Let me be clear, we have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior of any kind. As educators and community members nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our students. The Black Horse Pike Regional School District is cooperating fully with the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. In addition, we have initiated a comprehensive review of our existing policies, protocols, training and education materials to prevent this from happening at this or any district school.
We are notifying all of our families through our district news alert system and making counseling support services available to any student and family as needed. On an interim basis, the four vice-principals at Triton High School will take on the responsibility of day-to-day leadership, in consultation with our Central Office Administrative Team.
STATEMENT FROM THE BLACK HORSE PIKE SCHOOL DISTRICT
“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.”