County attorney's office files criminal complaint against Helper Junior High teacher
On Monday, the Carbon County Attorney's Office filed a formal criminal complaint in 7th District Court charging a 28-year-old female who taught at Helper Junior High last year with three separate third degree felony counts.
Dated Aug. 17, the felony level criminal complaint contends that Melissa A. Andreini engaged in unlawful sexual activity with an unidentified 15-year-old male minor on three separate occasions during the month of June.
Discussing the matter during an interview on Tuesday, Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate indicated that, after screening the evidence, the state prosecutor's office determined the facts supported charging the defendant with the three third degree felony unlawful sexual intercourse charges.
"The incidents reportedly occurred during the summer when school was not in session," pointed out Strate.
In addition, Andreini apparently never taught the minor and the alleged unlawful sexual activities occurred at a location distanced from the junior high school grounds.
"As I understand it, the teenager will be going to Carbon High School," noted the county attorney.
Recapping the events culminating in the formal criminal complaint, Strate and deputy county attorney Jeremy Humes explained that the department of child and family services received allegations regarding Andreini's behavior in July. The department subsequently contacted the Helper City Police Department and the law enforcement agency launched the criminal investigation into the matter. Helper Police Chief Trent Anderson spearheaded the investigation, conducted interviews and forwarded the information to the county attorney's office for review.
After the county attorney's office evaluated the evidence, Humes obtained a court-issued subpoena authorizing the prosecution's access to the cell phones of the defendant and the alleged victim. The cell phone records, coupled with the investigative evidence gathered by the Helper police department, resulted in the the prosecution deciding to file the three felony level charges against Andreini.
The county attorney's office consulted with defense counsel John Green late last week, commented Strate. The Salt Lake defense attorney informed the prosecution that Andreini intended to voluntarily surrender to Anderson at the Carbon County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 17. The defendant complied and the Helper police chief formally booked the suspect into the Carbon County Jail at 4:20 p.m. on Monday.
The court fixed bail in the felony level criminal complaint filed against the 28-year-old Helper resident at $10,000. After Andreini posted the designated bail amount, the jail released the defendant from official custody later on Aug. 18, confirmed the county correctional facility.
Addressing an unrelated matter during Tuesday's interview, Strate indicated that the county attorney's office has not completed the screening process in allegations involving a different teacher and minor at Helper Junior High School.
Pursuant to Utah's criminal statutes, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor constitutes a third degree felony offense. The maximum penalty imposable in a third degree criminal conviction includes an in indeterminate 0-5-year term in the Utah State Prison along with a $5,000 fine plus applicable interest. The state's criminal code allows a presiding judge to exercise discretion and place a convicted felon on probation after staying the execution of a prison sentence.