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Triton High School sex scandal: What were they thinking?

Last fall, a scandal erupted at Triton Regional High School in Runnemede, New Jersey. Three popular teachers—young and male—were arrested for inappropriate relationships with three female students. Two administrators—the principal and a vice principal—were also arrested for failing to report the relationships to the proper authorities.

Read: 5 charged in alleged teacher-student relationships at New Jersey high school on CNN.com.

Last Friday, Jeff Logandro, 32, and Daniel Michielli, 27, both math teachers, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit official misconduct and were sentenced to 30 days of home confinement and three years probation. They are also barred from teaching again in New Jersey. The men had also been charged with criminal sexual contact and child endangerment; those charges were dropped in the plea deal.

A day earlier, on Thursday, Nick Martinelli, 28, a health and physical education teacher, pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension. He allegedly had sexual relations with another girl, but because she was 18, he was not charged with child endangerment. He admitted in court that he told the student to keep their association secret from investigators.

The improper relationships came to light last April, when a student who was not one of the victims told a substitute teacher that other teachers were “hooking up” with students. The substitute teacher reported the allegation to the principal, Catherine DePaul, 55. Instead of contacting authorities, DePaul asked the student to write an account of the allegations. Vice Principal Jernee Kollock, 39, stayed in the room and made corrections to the student’s account.

DePaul and Kollock were charged with official misconduct. DePaul pleaded guilty to failure to report a crime and was sentenced to one year of probation. Kollock is still awaiting trial.

My visit to Triton

A month before the student first revealed the “hook ups,” in March 2012, I presented my program, now called Love Fraud and How to Avoid It, to the senior class at Triton High School.

All of the girls were seniors.

Daniel Michielli was the senior class advisor.

Jernee Kollock was the administrator who sent a few disruptive students to the office.

Approximately 300 seniors were in the auditorium that morning. Yes, some were distracted, more interested in socializing. But I distinctly remember one young lady who was listening intently. Was she one of the victims? What was she thinking?

Was Michielli, the senior class advisor, in the auditorium? Or were the other two teachers? If so, what were they thinking?

Jernee Kollock was there, and I know what she was thinking. She told me that she’d never heard abusive dating discussed the way I discussed it. But a month later, when a blatant case of abusive dating arose in her school, was she more concerned with protecting the teachers than the students? On that day, what was she thinking?

Abuse of power

This scandal is a classic case of betrayal. The teachers were in positions of power and authority over the students, and they abused their positions. A letter by the mother of one of the victims, which the assistant prosecutor read at the sentencing of Jeff Logandro and Daniel Michielli, provided a sense of the betrayal. The Associated Press reported:

The young woman who had a relationship with Logandro was in the courtroom watching Friday as a prosecutor read a letter from her mother, who was not identified by name, on the case: “Looking back now I can see why she never wanted to get up and go to school during her senior year,” the letter said. “Now I know how she spent her final year in high school living in fear of you and your actions toward her and the pressure from you to keep your secret.”

“Her reputation, integrity, self-respect and self-image have all been compromised by the actions of her teacher,” she said in the letter, adding that the fact that community members blamed the teen for the actions made it even harder to cope with.

The young woman authorities said Michielli had sex with was not in court. Assistant Prosecutor Mark Chase said that her family decided it was best she not attend.

Other parts of the letter were reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Most interesting to me,” she wrote in the letter read by Assistant Prosecutor Mark Chase, “is that a lot of the community blames the girls and their families.

“My further disappointment and further impact comes from the community … which place blame on the girls and not their offenders,” Chase read. “I thank the parents and students who have seen through the gossip and who have supported the girls … Unfortunately there are too few of you.”

The mother’s statement spoke of her daughter’s “loss of camaraderie among her classmates, the idea of being so alone. … The humiliation by so many people and the hurtful things that are said when all the facts are not truly known.”

I don’t know if the teachers were disordered, or just stupid young men who thought they could get away with something. I don’t know if the administrators experienced a terrible lapse of judgment, or if there was, as the prosecutor stated, “a culture at Triton High School where teachers thought they could get away with inappropriate relations with students.”

I don’t know what these teachers and administrators were thinking. I do know that their actions betrayed not only three young women, but all of their students.

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9 Comments on "Triton High School sex scandal: What were they thinking?"

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  1. Ox Drover says:

    Donna, the part of the mther’s letter that sayss

    QUOTE:

    “Most interesting to me,” she wrote in the letter read by Assistant Prosecutor Mark Chase, “is that a lot of the community blames the girls and their families.

    “My further disappointment and further impact comes from the community … which place blame on the girls and not their offenders,” Chase read. “I thank the parents and students who have seen through the gossip and who have supported the girls … Unfortunately there are too few of you.”

    The mother’s statement spoke of her daughter’s “loss of camaraderie among her classmates, the idea of being so alone. … The humiliation by so many people and the hurtful things that are said when all the facts are not truly known.”

    The BLAME THE VICTIM or BLAME THE VICTIM’s PARENTS—seems to be the standard operating procedure in cases like this.

    I can’t believe the light sentences for these men who should be registered for life as sex offenders. It is NO joke for these girls to have been seduced or pressured int sexual relations with their teachers.

    In reading the news lately I have noticed more and more cases of teacher/student sex, one woman even with a special needs student by whom she is now expecting a child. Many of these predators are FEMALE and frankly I would “bet the farm” that these predators are all high in P traits.

  2. blossom4th says:

    Like Oxy,I see the same tendency amongst people to blame the victim instead of the predator;whether it be someone like us or these young women.

    In the case of young students,especially girls,it is almost accepted that young male teachers “couldn’t help themselves” to young,innocent flesh.I applaud those who are truly disturbed by such sexual perversion.It is nonsense that these teachers cannot control their impulses!

  3. Ox Drover says:

    Without trying to sound “anti male” many times it seems the prevailing male attitude of a male student 16 or 17 who “gets laid” by a female teacher just “got lucky” rather than see it for what it IS….ABUSE BY A FEMALE TEACHER OF A MALE STUDENT.

    That teacher that went to prison for having an “affair” with a kid that I think was 12 when it started and she had 2 or 3 kids by him and after she got out of prison she went back to him and after he turned 18 I think they married. I can’t for the life of me remember her name.

    There is a link here on LF to a blog about “female offenders” and you can access it by clicking on the link on the left of the screen under “blog rolls” The statistics that the researchers have come up with is that at least 50% of all pedophile acts are done by WOMEN! So sexual abuse is an “equal opportunity crime.”

    Fortunately it is being prosecuted more in women now, but the LIGHT SENTENCES these guys got make me puke.

    The rape case in Ohio where the “foot ball heroes” raped a 16 yr old girl who was passed out was tried in JUVENILE COURT where the worst they can get is to stay in custody til they are 21 and I think they will get less. At the town protesting a sign said “Grafitti is a juvenile crime, rape is an adult crime.” I tend to agree with that sign.

    The worst part of that rape though is that the girl’s “friends” filmed it and posted it on the Internet and others made videos LAUGHING about it. What kind of PERVERSION is our society coming to when this sort of thing happens and it is the “good” kids from “good homes” rather than gangs or “bad” kids?

  4. Truthspeak says:

    just………………..ew.

    WTF were these people THINKING?!?!?!

  5. Redwald says:

    That teacher that went to prison for having an “affair” with a kid that I think was 12 when it started and she had 2 or 3 kids by him and after she got out of prison she went back to him and after he turned 18 I think they married. I can’t for the life of me remember her name.

    Mary Kay Letourneau.

    As far as I know they’re still married. She’s 51 now. He’ll be 30 this year.

    A while back, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that the couple had been hosting what they called “Hot for Teacher Nights” at a Seattle bar called “Fuel Sports Eats and Beats.” Hubby acted as DJ while Mary sold “Hot for Teacher” T-shirts with a picture of the couple on them.

    The mind boggles…

  6. Hopeforjoy says:

    Redwald,

    I don’t know why the hubby stayed with Mary Kay. It was so many years ago that this happened, you’d think hubby would have woke up and moved on. The student teacher thing has been happening way too often. The fact that Mary Kay is still married to her victim, paves the way for more student victimization by predator teachers because it’s really “true love”. It’s sick and wrong!

    I swear that many in our society have reverted to baboons. Regressed to our long distant relatives. Or maybe their lizard brain has taken over their shriveled up human brains. Either way, they are high in narcissistic traits and displaying some sort of psychopathology.

  7. Ox Drover says:

    Thanks, Redwald, glad to “see” you…yea how “classy” that is! NOT!!! These perps playing on their crimes and making money selling their stories…makes me want to puke.

  8. Truthspeak says:

    OxD, what I’m seeing more and more is that the bottom line is money. From physicians to some counseling therapists to everything in between, the bottom line is the Almighty Dollar, and it’s so frigging UNSEEMLY to me to capitalize on something so sordid…..

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