Former Montgomery Township teacher Michelina Aichele, 30, faces up to a year in Somerset County jail. She plead guilty this week to third-degree endangering the welfare of a child for sending nude photos to a student.
Aichele, of Hillsborough, was dismissed from her position as an English teacher at Montgomery High School after she was arrested in October and charged with sending nude photos and text messages to a male student from February through April 2018.
Aichele, who’d faced up to five years in jail, plead guilty Wednesday in Superior Court of Somerset County in Somerville. In addition to jail time, she was ordered to give up her teaching certificate, will be on parole for life, and has to register as a sex offender.
A violation of her plea agreement could result in an extra 364 days in jail. Her official sentencing is scheduled for early July.
Montgomery Superintendent Nancy H. Gartenberg had sent a letter to the school community in October noting the teacher was suspended and removed from the high school on Oct 4 while an investigation was ongoing.
"The district will continue to cooperate with the Somerset County prosecutor and ... police," she wrote. "The district is providing counseling and support services for students and staff."
Aichele had been a Montgomery High School English teacher since April 2012 according to social media, and was arrested after the 16-year-old victim told police about nude photos and messages he allegedly received from Aichele over a period of several months, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.
A Montgomery High School administrator had contacted Montgomery Police on Thursday, Oct 4 regarding sexually explicit communications between a teacher and a male student, Robertson said, adding the victim provided details of sexually explicit conversations the defendant Aichele had with him on social media sites and email.
The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes / Child Abuse Unit responded to assist Montgomery Police with the investigation and arrested Aichele on Friday, October 5.
Police charged Aichele with 2nd-degree endangering the welfare of a child, Robertson said, and she was locked up in Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing.
According to public records, Aichele earned $72,500 a year as a teacher. According to her LinkedIn profile, she also is employed as a consultant with Rodan + Fields, a skincare company in which products are sold via "community commerce."
When the high school administration initially questioned Aichele and the student, they both denied a relationship, officials have said. When police arrived though, the male student started talking to the officers about the relationship, according to the criminal complaint.
In a taped statement, the male student told investigators Aichele sent him four photos of “her exposed bare breasts and buttocks” between February and April via Snapchat. “He further stated that she sent him text messages through Snapchat, stating that she thought about him while masturbating,” the complaint states.
After being charged, Aichele tried to blame students for the pictures, accusing students of going into her phone and sending nude photos to themselves that she’d previously saved on her phone.
Upon further investigation, authorities discovered Aichele used her school email address to send sexually explicit messages and asked him to take the "Rice Purity Test," which is designed to measure a person's sexual promiscuity, the complaint states.