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Police: Teachers accused of distributing cocaine, having sex with students during camping trip

Michelle Ghirelli (left) and Melodi Lippert (right) appear in undated booking photos. [Photo: Orange County Sheriff's Department/The Desk]
Michelle Ghirelli (left) and Melodi Lippert (right) appear in undated booking photos. [Photo: Orange County Sheriff’s Department/The Desk]
Two Southern California teachers who were arrested last month for allegedly having sexual relations with as many as five male students face additional felony charges of distributing alcohol and cocaine to minors, police announced on Tuesday.

In a press release, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced felony charges against 38-year-old Melony Lippert of Covina, California and 30-year-old Michelle Ghirelli of West Covina for alleged sexual relations with students during a camping trip at San Clemente Beach last year.

Police say Lippert and Ghirelli distributed alcohol and cocaine to the students during the camping trip. At one point, police say Lippert “facilitated” a sexual relationship between Ghirelli and an unidentified17-year-old student.

The pair were arrested in January following a police investigation. Last month, a prosecutor told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that Ghrelli did not dispute the sexual relationship took place, but had provided “various reasons” as to why she believed the student was an adult.

Both teachers were paid on administrative leave following their arrest in January. They have since resigned. Lawyers for the teachers say they plan to enter a “not guilty” plea at a hearing on Wednesday. If convicted, both teachers face over 10 years in state prison.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).