Sex, Drug Charges Filed Against Covina-Valley Teachers in Connection With Camping Trip

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Michelle Ghirelli, left, and Melody Lippert, right, are seen in booking photos provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Additional charges of unlawful sexual intercourse and illegally provision of alcohol and cocaine to underage students were filed Monday against two Covina-Valley Unified teachers in connection with an unauthorized camping trip at San Clemente Beach.

The two women had been charged on Feb. 4 with contributing to delinquency of a minor after allegedly providing alcohol to underage students during late December camping trip. The new charges, announced Monday, were much more severe.

Melody Suzanne Lippert, 38, of Covina, was facing additional charges of one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse, and one felony count of furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Co-defendant Michelle Louise Ghirelli, 30, of West Covina, was charged with one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse, one felony count of furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, and one felony count of oral copulation of a minor.

Both women were also charged with a sentencing enhancement for being four years or older than the minor.

Lippert was accused of organizing the unapproved school trip to San Clemente Beach by sending out a group text message inviting co-defendant Ghirelli and five male high school students, according to the release.

During the camping trip, which occurred between Nov. 23 and Dec. 29, the two teachers allegedly distributed alcohol and cocaine to the underage students, the DA’s office stated. Prosecutors had originally given the date range of the trip as between Dec. 27 and Dec. 29, but that was changed with the new charges filed Monday.

At some point during the trip, Lippert was also accused of facilitating Ghirelli’s sexual relationship with an unidentified 17-year-old student. Ghirelli was accused of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with the student and orally copulating the victim.

At the time of the trip, Lippert was a teacher at South Hills High School in West Covina and Ghirelli was employed at the Covina-Valley Unified School District, the release stated.

The Covina-Valley Unified School District initially reported the case to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The school district, centered in Covina, serves parts of West Covina, Glendora, San Dimas and Irwindale.

They women were set to be arraigned Wednesday.

If convicted as charged, Lippert faced a maximum sentence of 10 years and six months in state prison, and Ghirelli faced a maximum sentence of 11 years and eight months in state prison.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the city where the women worked. The post has been updated.