Melissa Andreini, 29, pled guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, in District Court on Jan. 22. With her plea, the original three charges were dropped and she now faces only a third degree felony.
"Today was actually going to be the trial, but the defense wanted to resolve the matter, and Andreini decided to enter a plea," said prosecuting attorney, Gene Strate. "She's undergone a psychological evaluation and now things will be turned over to the Department of Corrections."
Andreini, who was a teacher at Helper Junior High, knew the victim through a group which would gather around her classroom before school began. The relationship, however, did not begin until early last summer, when Ms. Andreini hired the victim, who was 15 years old at the time, to do yard work for her. At this point, according to the prosecution, a relationship developed and she had sexual intercourse with him. The relationship continued until the victim's mother found out and reported the incident to her lawyer, who then alerted the Helper police. Once the investigation was under way, Andreini turned herself in to police.
"These types of cases are not very common in the area, and this is the first time we've had a female teacher," said Strate.
As the investigation started and evidence was gathered, another Helper Jr. High teacher was accused of similar conduct. However, Strate indicated that charges were dropped as there was not sufficient evidence.
As far as teaching, Andreini has resigned from the school. Strate indicated that her license will likely be, or has already been, revoked. As far as sentencing, a pre-sentence investigation will be reviewed on March 22. Andreini faces a maximum of five years in Utah State Prison and/or a $5,000 fine. With her plea, she was informed of her waiver of rights and told that she must report to the Utah State Department of Corrections for the investigation on Monday, Jan. 25.
"(In terms of sentencing) I don't know where the court will come down, but as she was not the victim's teacher, it will be less serious," said Strate.
Utah has had a few similar cases, however many were more serious.
Andreini, who was a special education teacher at the Jr. High was supposed to have paid the boy around $1,400 for his employment.