A high school teacher in New Jersey has pleaded guilty to third-degree child endangerment after sending sexually explicit messages to a 16-year-old student, and now faces a year in prison.
Former English teacher Michelina Aichele, 30, entered the guilty plea on Wednesday 10 April at Superior Court of Somerset County in Somerville, after being arrested in October.
Officials from Montgomery High School in Somerset had reported sexually explicit communications between Aichele and a male student, who was 16 at the time of their exchanges.
High school administration and police had discovered both photos and conversations, which had been sent via text, email and social media between February and April 2018.
When school staff initially questioned Aichele and the student about the messages, officials said both denied a relationship.
Aichele, 30. Credit: Somerset County Prosecutor's Office
However, according to the criminal complaint, when police arrived, the male student began talking to officers about the relationship - later admitting he had received photos from the teacher.
In a taped statement he told investigators that Aichele sent him four pictures of 'her exposed bare breasts and buttocks' via Snapchat.
"He further stated that she sent him text messages through Snapchat, stating that she thought about him while masturbating," the complaint reads.
NJ.com reports that Aichele had tried to blame students for the pictures, claiming they had gone onto her phone and sent nude photos to themselves that she'd previously saved to her device.
But as the investigation continued, the complaint states authorities discovered Aichele had asked the student to take the 'Rice Purity Test', a test designed to measure someone's level of sexual promiscuity.
She had also used her school email address to send sexually explicit messages.
A letter issued by Superindendent Nancy H. Gartenberg in October said: "This teacher was suspended and removed from the high school on Oct. 4, 2018 while the investigation was ongoing.
"The teacher's suspension shall be continued pending a resolution of the criminal charges, and the district will continue to cooperate with the Somerset County Prosecutor and the Montgomery Township Police Department."
Having pleaded guilty, Aichele now faces a year in prison after prosecutors recommended reducing what could have been a five-year jail term.
She has also been banned from teaching, and has been ordered to register as a sex offender.
She will also be on parole for life, with a violation of these terms potentially landing her with 364 days in prison, according to NJ.com.
Aichele's official sentencing is scheduled for early July.
Featured Image Credit: Somerset County Prosecutor's Office