Melody Lippert. Michelle Ghirelli
Melody Lippert (l) and Michelle Ghirelli. Photo courtesy of the OCSD

Two former Covina-Valley Unified School District teachers previously charged with misdemeanors for allegedly supplying booze to underage students on a San Clemente camping trip were charged Monday with felony sex offenses.

Melody Suzanne Lippert, 38, of Covina, is accused of playing “matchmaker” for co-defendant Michelle Louise Ghirelli, 30, of West Covina, who is charged with having sex with a 17-year-old boy, according to Deputy District Attorney Kristin Bracic.

Orange County prosecutors had previously declined to file more serious felony sex charges against the two, citing insufficient information.

But a school district-related investigation that uncovered alleged cocaine use at the party led Orange County sheriff’s deputies to re-interview witnesses in the case, Bracic said. Cell phone records also helped convince investigators that Ghirelli knew the boy was 17, she said.

Lippert taught at South Hills High School in West Covina, and Ghirelli was an employee in the Covina-Valley Unified School District.

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.

Lippert was charged with one felony count each of unlawful sexual intercourse and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. She also faces a sentencing enhancement for being more than four years older than the victim.

Ghirelli was charged with the same counts, plus a felony count of oral copulation of a minor.

They are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on the felony charges, as well as a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

City News Service

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