Teachers Charged With Giving Cocaine To Students They Sexually Abused On Beach Trip
Two Orange County teachers were charged on Monday with having sex with students on a camping trip, and supplying the teens with alcohol and cocaine.
Melody Suzanne Lippert, 38, and Michelle Louise Ghirelli, 30, former teachers from the Covina-Valley Unified School District who were each already charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor are now facing some new charges that filed on Monday. They were each additionally charged with a felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse and felony count of giving a controlled substance to a minor, according to the L.A. Times. Ghirelli was separately charged with a felony count of oral copulation of a minor.
The charges stem from a Dec. 27 to 29 camping trip with five teenage boys at a San Clemente Beach that Lippert organized, prosecutors said. The trip was not authorized by the school. Lippert reportedly invited her colleague Ghirelli to join her on the trip, and the two supplied the boys with alcohol and cocaine. Prosecutors said Lippert helped facilitate Ghirelli's relationship with a 17-year-old boy, which later resulted in Ghirelli allegedly having oral sex and sexual intercourse with the student during the trip.
After officials from the Covina-Valley Unified School District got wind of the trip and investigated, they reported it to the Orange County Sheriff's Dept. The two teachers were arrested in January on suspicion of statutory rape. Lippert, who authorities said taught at South Hills High, and Ghirelli, only identified as an employee at the school district, both resigned last week after being put on administrative leave in January. Another high school teacher from the same school district, Sean Kane, was also put on administrative leave after posting a Facebook rant about how the students "should have just kept [their] stupid mouths shut and enjoyed it."
Ghirelli faces up to 11 years, eight months in state prison, and Lippert up to 10 years and six months if they're convicted of all their charges. They will be arraigned in court on Wednesday.
“It’s a good thing that they are charging them with more serious crimes, but its horrible, they should have known better,” a parent who didn't want to be named, said at a Covina-Valley Unified School Board meeting, reported the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. "People in authority need to be held to a higher standard."