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Former Plymouth educators charged in sexual misconduct scandal make quick and silent exit following court appearance

Former Plymouth Center School Principal Sherri Turner and Teacher Melissa Morelli are charged with failing to protect their students from sexual misconduct.

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Two of the defendants connected to the school sexual misconduct scandal that cast a shadow on the small town of Plymouth appeared in court Wednesday, but not for long. They never actually took the stand.

They are facing charges of failing to protect minors from abuse. Former Plymouth Center School Principal Sherri Turner and Math Interventionist Melissa Morelli made a quick exit toward the New Britain Superior Court parking garage after discovering their case but being placed on an administrative continuance.

RELATED: 'He was touching us': Warrants detail accounts of victims, staff in Plymouth school sexual misconduct case

“Did you fail to protect those kids?”, “What did you know about Mr. Eschert?” Those were some of the questions FOX61 asked Sherri Turner and Melissa Morelli as they left without saying a word. “Do you feel like you let the kids down?” we asked. A man put his hand into the camera.

Turner and Morelli are just two of the four former Plymouth School employees charged with covering up the sexual misconduct of Center School Teacher James Eschert, who would reportedly invite girls onto his lap, let them play beneath his desk and was found with in appropriate images on his camera.

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It was conducted that both parents and students allegedly brought to the attention of these school staff. 

“If you could kindly assign my student to another teacher,” wrote one parent in an email to school administrators. “He was touching us inappropriately…we want you to do something about it,” said a student to Turner. To which she replied, “We’ll work on it.”

RELATED: 4 arrested for knowing of sex assault incidents at Plymouth school and not reporting them

A Plymouth mother whose kids attended the Center School told FOX61, “The kids have to come first, especially if you dedicate your whole career to them. If I thought somebody was hurting children, I’d turn them in no matter who they were.”

All of the defendants were what are known as mandated reporters. The issue was finally reported to DCF by the Principal of Plymouth’s Eli Terry Middle School. Turner and Morelli will be back in court on October 13. The other two defendants, Chrystal Collins and Rebecca Holleran are scheduled to appear on September 12.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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