(CBS/AP) CAMDEN, N.J. - Three teachers at a New Jersey high school were arrested Thursday for allegedly engaging in sexual relationships with students, while two administrators were arrested for covering up the scandal.
The five adults were suspended from Triton High School in the Philadelphia suburb of Runnemede, N.J., and each could face at least five years in prison if convicted of charges ranging from child endangerment to sexual assault and official misconduct.
The teachers, all men in their late 20s or early 30s, are accused of striking up relationships with female students during the 2011-2012 school year.
Local prosecutors said a student came to Principal Catherine DePaul six months ago with allegations that another student was involved with a teacher at the school, and she saw explicit text messages that the two had exchanged.
After that, Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk said that DePaul and Assistant Principal Jernee Kollock ignored policies and safeguards that were in place and instead put into motion a cover-up that promoted a culture "where teachers thought they could get away with improper relationships with their students."
"These charges constitute individual personal, moral, legal and ethical failure," Faulk said at a news conference Thursday.
Faulk said rape charges could not be filed because the sex acts were consensual and the girls were 17 or 18 years old at the time, old enough to consent under state law.
According to court documents, 27-year-old math teacher Dan Michielli had intercourse with a student multiple times during the school year. He is charged with official misconduct, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual conduct.
Gym teacher and boys' soccer coach Nick Martinelli, 28, is charged with official misconduct involving an 18-year-old. He allegedly touched and kissed the girl when she was a student and had intercourse with her after she graduated in June.
Math teacher and girls' track coach Jeff Logandro, 32, is charged with official misconduct, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. A court filing said he inappropriately touched a female student.
Authorities said a student, not one of the alleged victims, told a substitute teacher in April that teachers were "hooking up" with students. The substitute teacher then reported the allegations to DePaul.
Prosecutors said DePaul met with the student, who told her she'd been to one of the teacher's homes with a girl who was involved with him and saw the explicit text messages. Authorities said DePaul asked her to write an account of what she heard and Kollock stayed with the student to help her write the statement, helping her with her grammar, and making the accusations seem less serious.
Faulk said that around the same time, DePaul learned that one of the teachers drove an alleged victim and another student to Ocean City in violation of district policy. But the teacher was merely reprimanded.
Neither administrator contacted authorities, Faulk said. Both were charged with official misconduct.
DePaul later said she wished she was more concerned for the students than the teachers, according to Falk.
The teachers were suspended by the Black Horse Regional School District last month and the administrators were suspended Thursday. Superintendent John Golden said in a statement that the district was cooperating with authorities, notifying families of students of what allegedly happened and offering counseling.
"In addition, we have initiated a comprehensive review of our existing policies, protocols and training and education materials to prevent this from happening again at this or any district school," the statement said.