ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESS RELEASE
Case # 15HF0219
Date: March 2, 2015
NEWPORT BEACH – Additional charges were filed today against two high school teachers for unlawful sexual intercourse and illegally providing alcohol and cocaine to a group of underage students after organizing a camping trip at San Clemente Beach. Melody Suzanne Lippert, 38, Covina, is facing additional charges of one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse, one felony count of furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, and a sentencing enhancement for being four years or older than the minor, in addition to the original previous charge of one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Co-defendant Michelle Louise Ghirelli, 30, West Covina, is facing additional charges of one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse, one felony count of furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, one felony count of oral copulation of a minor, and a sentencing enhancement for being four years or older than the minor, in addition to the original previous charge of one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
If convicted, Lippert faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and six months in state prison and Ghirelli faces a maximum sentence of 11 years and eight months in state prison. The People will request their bail to be set at $50,000 at their arraignment on March 4, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-1, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.
At the time of the crimes, Lippert was a teacher at South Hills High School in West Covina and Ghirelli was an employee at the Covina-Valley Unified School District.
Lippert is accused of organizing a trip that was unapproved by the school or district by sending a group text message and inviting co-defendant Ghirelli and five other male high school students to a camping trip at San Clemente Beach.
Between Nov. 23, 2014, and Dec. 29, 2014, the defendants are accused of camping with the five students at San Clemente Beach and illegally distributing alcohol and cocaine to the underage students throughout the duration of the trip.
At some point during the trip, Lippert is accused of facilitating Ghirelli’s sexual relationship with 17-year-old John Doe. Ghirelli is accused of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with John Doe and orally copulating the victim.
The Covina-Valley Unified School District reported the case to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), who investigated this case. Additional charges were filed today by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office after further investigation into this case by OCSD.
Deputy District Attorney Kristin Bracic of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.
TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney
Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff