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Home blog Criminal Defense In the News Sex Crimes OC Prosecutors File Charges Against Teachers Accused of Sex Abuse, Giving Drugs to Minors in San Clemente

OC Prosecutors File Charges Against Teachers Accused of Sex Abuse, Giving Drugs to Minors in San Clemente

By Michael Guisti on March 3, 2015

San Clemente, CA — All sorts of restrictions are placed on teenagers’ behavior. They can’t get a driver’s license until they turn 16. Can’t smoke until they’re 18. Can’t drink until their 21st birthday. These limitations are in place to give them more time to gain experience and develop judgment before they assume the responsibility of adulthood, teenagers often will try to do these things anyway. Sometimes with the help of adults who look the other way or even actively help them.

On Monday, the Orange County District Attorney’s office announced that additional charges would be filed against two former teachers accused of arranging an overnight camping trip in San Clemente in order to have sex with students. The defendants are Melody Suzanne Lippert, 38, and Michelle Louise Ghirelli, 30, who previously worked as a teacher and administrator, respectively, with the Covina-Valley school district.

According to prosecutors, Lippert sent out a group message to arrange a camping trip at San Clemente Beach for herself, Ghirelli, and five high school boys between November 27th and 29th. During the trip, the women allegedly gave the boys alcohol and cocaine, and Ghirelli is said to have had oral sex with a 17-year-old student.

In addition to the previous charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, Lippert and Ghirelli are also facing felony charges of unlawful sexual intercourse and giving a controlled substance to a minor. Ghirelli has also been charged with oral copulation with a minor, a felony. Lippert and Ghirelli’s attorney has announced his clients’ intention to plead not guilty when they are arraigned on Wednesday in Newport Beach.

Because the age of consent is 18 in California, any sexual activity with a minor can lead to criminal charges. A conviction of sexual assault, unlawful sex with a minor, or other sex crimes charges can have an extremely negative impact on your life. In addition to potential prison sentences, it will also mean that you are forced to register as a sex offender which will make it difficult to find employment and housing in the future.

No matter what you’ve been charged with, an attorney from the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti can help you build a successful defense in Southern California courtrooms. Our team of dedicated legal professionals have over 16 years of experience trying all kinds of criminal cases, and in that time they’ve built an impressive record of having the charges against their clients reduced or dismissed. If you hire our firm, you’ll have a tireless advocate who will stand up for your rights in court.

Our dedication to serving our clients is one of the reasons we’ve been able to grow our practice to include offices in Santa Ana, Irvine, Newport Beach, and Garden Grove. This allows us to be closer to Orange County’s courthouses and diverse local communities. As part of our commitment to putting our clients at ease, we are happy to provide foreign language assistance as needed.

So if you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime anywhere in Southern California, call the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 707-2797 for a free consultation.


Hamilton, Matt. “Teachers charged with having sex with students, giving them cocaine.” http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-teachers-charged-sex-cocaine-camping-trip-20150302-story.html. Los Angeles Times. 2 March 2015.

Puente, Kelly. “Sex charges filed against two California teachers accused of giving booze to students on San Clemente beach camping trip.” http://www.ocregister.com/articles/-652825–.html. Orange County Register. 2 March 2015.

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