JEANETTE, Pa. – A 38-year-old Pennsylvania ethics teacher is learning a lesson of her own after she was charged with sexually assaulting a male Jeannette High School student in her classroom, her car, and at a Holiday Inn.
Married Jeanette teacher Maria Chappell is accused skipping school with a 16-year-old male student Feb. 29 and taking the boy to a Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Hempfield for a day-long sex romp, as well as other sexual activities with the student in her classroom and vehicle, TribLive.com reports.
Chappell was arraigned Friday on felony charges of sexual contact with a student, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor in a court proceeding attended by her husband.
“She intends to address this; her husband is here to address it,” Chappell’s attorney, Jeff Monzo, told the court. “She’s been a wonderful contributing member of society.”
According to TribLive:
Westmoreland County Detective Randall Gardner said in court papers that high school Principal Patricia Rozycki reported on March 17 to police that “she had become suspicious due to some things that had been occurring at the school.”
Both the male student and Chappell told school officials that they had engaged in a sexual relationship, Gardner wrote in the complaint. The student told investigators that he and Chappell had sexual relations on multiple occasions in Chappell’s classroom after school and in her vehicle in various locations in the city, according to court documents.
They both skipped school Feb. 29, Chappell picked the student up near his home and the pair spent the day at a room she rented at Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Hempfield, Gardner wrote in the complaint.
Chappell taught English at Jeannette High School, including a course for ninth-graders called “Ethically Speaking,” and was “removed” from her duties after officials learned of the allegations. District superintendent Matthew Hutcheson issued a statement “to advise students and parents that all appropriate steps are being taken to address this situation and to avoid future situations.”
Aside from the alleged confessions, police also recovered electronic communications of a “sexual nature” between the Chappell – a mother of two – and the student after confiscating their cell phones and computers, CBS Philadelphia reports.
District Judge Joseph DeMarchis released Chappell on a $50,000 unsecured bail after her arraignment, but placed her on electronic monitoring and imposed several bond requirements. DeMarchis forbid the teacher from contacting the student or his family, and from going within 200 yards of the boy’s home “or any place he might be found,” TribLive reports.
“The fact that the alleged victim is a child, I can’t ignore that fact,” the judge said. “I’m moved by the fact that these allegations … took place in a classroom, in a school. This wasn’t out somewhere; it was in school.”
“I’m looking at the total picture,” DeMarchis said. “And those factors bother me a great deal.”
Chappell does not have a prior criminal record, and has taught in the district for 13 years, according to the news site.
She’s due back in court April 22.
Several student comments about Chappell on the website RateMyTeachers.com takes on creepy new connotations in light of the criminal charges.
“Great teacher that really knows how to pique student interest,” one student wrote. “I only passed her class with an 87%, but I got some great stories to tell later.”
“Her teaching capabilities are remarkable and she spends personal and quality time with each one of her students and she is always willing to teach and to help her students,” another posted.