CAMDEN, N.J. -- Six months ago, a student came to Triton HighSchool Principal Catherine DePaul with a disturbing story: She believedanother student was involved in a sexual relationship with a teacher atthe school, and she'd seen explicit text messages the two had exchanged.
Atthat moment, local prosecutors say, a cover-up was put in motion thatultimately unraveled Thursday when DePaul, an assistant principal andthree teachers were charged with offenses ranging from childendangerment to sexual assault and official misconduct.
Each ofthe five adults has been suspended from the school in the Philadelphiasuburb of Runnemede, and each could face at least five years in prisonif convicted.
The teachers - all men in their late 20s or early30s - are accused of striking up relationships with female studentsduring the 2011-2012 school year.
Sexual relationships betweenteachers and students are not uncommon, but what distinguished thealleged events at as the according to Camden County Prosecutor WarrenFaulk.
"These charges constitute individual personal, moral, legal and ethical failure," Faulk said at a news conference Thursday.
Faulksaid rape charges could not be filed because the sex acts wereconsensual and the girls were 17 or 18 at the time - old enough toconsent under state law.
According to court documents, mathteacher Dan Michielli, 27, of Blackwood had intercourse with a studentmultiple times during the school year. He is charged with officialmisconduct, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child andcriminal sexual conduct.
Gym teacher and boys' soccer coach NickMartinelli, 28, of Cherry Hill is charged with official misconductinvolving an 18-year-old. He allegedly touched and kissed the girl whenshe was a student and had intercourse with her after she graduated inJune.
Math teacher and girls' track coach Jeff Logandro, 32, ofBlackwood is charged with official misconduct, criminal sexual contactand endangering the welfare of a child. A court filing says heinappropriately touched a female student.
Authorities say astudent, not one of the alleged victims, told a substitute teacher inApril that teachers were "hooking up" with students. Authorities say thesubstitute teacher then told DePaul.
Prosecutors say theprincipal met with the student, who told her she'd been to one of theteacher's homes with a girl who was involved with him and had seen theexplicit text messages. Authorities say that DePaul asked her to writean account of what she had heard and that Assistant Principal JerneeKollock stayed with the student to help her write the statement, evenhelping her with her grammar - but also making it seem less serious.
Aroundthe same time, Faulk said, DePaul learned one of the teachers haddriven an alleged victim and another student to Ocean City in violationof district policy. But, he said, the teacher was merely reprimanded.
Faulk said neither administrator contacted authorities. Both were charged with official misconduct.
Faulk said DePaul later said she wished she had been more concerned for the students than the teachers.
Thedefendants either could not be reached or did not return messages leftThursday afternoon by The Associated Press. All five are due in courtOct. 11.
The teachers were suspended by the Black Horse RegionalSchool District last month; the administrators were suspended Thursday.Superintendent John Golden said in a statement that the district wascooperating with authorities, notifying families of students of whatallegedly happened and offering counseling.
"In addition, we haveinitiated a comprehensive review of our existing policies, protocols andtraining and education materials to prevent this from happening againat this or any district school," the statement said.