A former Plymouth School District principal and a current school employee were arrested on charges of failure to report abuse, according to the Plymouth Police Department.
Sherri Turner, 59, of Farmington, and Melissa Morelli, 45, of Plymouth, were charged with failure to report abuse, neglect or injury of a child or imminent risk of serious harm to a child. Both were released on a promise to appear and are scheduled to be arraigned in court in New Britain on Sept. 7.
Turner was arrested Tuesday and Morelli on Wednesday.
Plymouth Public Schools Superintendent Brian Falcone sent a letter to families of students at Plymouth Center School on Tuesday, stating that arrest warrants were issued for three current employees of the school and one former school administrator.
The four employees allegedly failed to report allegations of sexual abuse and neglect of students by former teacher James Eschert, Falcone said in the letter.
Turner was the principal of the school at the time Eschert was suspected of abuse.
The three current employees were placed on administrative leave last November when the school district first notified the Department of Children and Families of the alleged failure to report, Falcone wrote.
Plymouth Public School employees are mandated reporters who are required to report allegations of abuse or neglect of children to the Department of Children and Families for investigation.
Falcone said due to the pending criminal investigation, the school could not comment further on the arrest warrants.
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“But I can assure you that we have fully cooperated with the Department of Children and Families and Plymouth Police Department throughout their investigations,” he stated in the letter.
Eschert was employed in the district from August 1998 to Nov. 9, 2021. He taught second, third and fourth grades.
The case involves Eschert’s alleged conduct with his female students, police said. Current Principal Angela Suffridge made a report to the state Department of Children and Families on Sept. 16, 2021, after a female student gave her a note outlining past alleged incidents with Eschert.
The note said he was “strange and weird” and had been touching girls “in a way he shouldn’t,” according to the warrant.
He allegedly touched girls inappropriately, took inappropriate photos, encouraged girls to sit on his lap and had them play under his desk while he sat there — blocking them from getting out, according to the arrest warrant detailing Eschert’s alleged crimes.
Eschert was arrested and charged with two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and five counts of risk of injury to a minor in January. He also faces a civil lawsuit filed by a former student in June of this year. According to court documents, the victim, identified as “Jane Doe,” alleged that she was sexually abused by Eschert during the 2017-18 school year.
Information from Courant reporters Taylor Hartz and Mike Mavredakis were used in this report.