Two Covina-Valley Unified School District teachers were charged Wednesday with misdemeanors for allegedly supplying alcohol to underage students, but prosecutors declined to file more serious charges based on allegations of sexual liaisons with male students during a party at San Clemente State Beach.
Melody Suzanne Lippert, 38, of Covina, and Michelle Louise Ghirelli, 30, of West Covina, were charged with misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor, said Orange County Deputy District Attorney Kristin Bracic.
More serious sex-related felonies were not filed because investigators lack enough evidence to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury, Bracic said.
Lippert was booked last month on suspicion of conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, while Ghirelli was booked on suspicion of oral copulation and statutory rape.
The sex was not disputed, but “there were so many explanations why she (Ghirelli) thought (the alleged victim) was 18,” Bracic said, adding the boy was “months away” from turning 18.
Lippert taught at South Hills High School in West Covina, and Ghirelli was an employee in the Covina-Valley Unified School District. Their current employment status was not immediately known.
Lippert organized the unapproved camping trip through a group text message/invitation to the co-defendant and five male high school students, Bracic alleged. The group camped out at the San Clemente beach Dec. 27-29 and the teachers supplied the teens with booze, the prosecutor alleged.
West Covina police contacted sheriff’s investigators Jan. 16 about the party, leading to the arrests of the defendants the next day.
The two are scheduled to be arraigned Friday, and could face up to a year in jail if convicted.
— City News Service