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Teachers Plead Guilty To Sex With Underage Student At Drug-Fueled Beach Party

NEWPORT BEACH ( — Two former female high school teachers pleaded guilty Friday to having sex with a 17-year-old student during an alcohol and drug-fueled camping trip at San Clemente State Beach.

Former teacher Melody Suzanne Lippert, 38, of Covina, listened somberly as the district attorney read a victim impact statement written by the family of the now 18-year-old student.

"He knew it was wrong. But he was afraid…afraid of his teacher," the prosecutor read from the statement.

Lippert's co-defendant, Michelle Louise Ghirelli, 30, of West Covina, also pleaded guilty to a felony count of furnishing a controlled substance.

At the time of their crimes, Lippert was a teacher at South Hills High School in West Covina and Ghirelli was an employee with the Covina-Valley Unified School District.

Prosecutors say Lippert organized the trip, which was not approved by the school or the district, by sending a group text to Ghirelli and five other male high school students to go camping on San Clemente State Beach, between Dec. 27 and 29, 2014. On the trip, prosecutors say Ghirelli distributed alcohol and cocaine to the underage students during the trip, and Lippert apparently played "matchmaker" by pushing Ghirelli toward the boy.

"I get the sense very much from the reports that Miss Ghirelli was very much along for the ride and when they were on this camping trip, it was Miss Lippert that was pushing her in the direction of this particular student and actually took the hand of this 17-year-old boy and said, 'OK, go take her in the tent,'" prosecutor Kristin Bracic said.

Both women agreed to plead guilty in exchange for more lenient sentences. Lippert was sentenced to three years of formal probation and 15 days of CalTrans community service. Ghirelli was also sentenced to three years of formal probation and 180 days in a lock-down rehabilitation facility.

Both women are qualified to have their teach credentials revoked for life in California.

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