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Criminal cases against 4 former Plymouth schools employees dismissed

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PLYMOUTH, CT (WFSB) – Four former employees of Plymouth Public Schools arrested in connection with teacher’s sexual abuse case had their criminal cases dismissed, the district’s superintendent confirmed.

Superintendent Brian Falcone sent a letter to the school community to provide an update on the case against former fourth grade teacher James Eschert.

“Mr. Eschert’s criminal case remains pending and he is no longer employed by the district,” Falcone wrote.

He continues to face multiple sexual assault charges.

The criminal cases of four other current and former employees have been dismissed through operation of the court process,” Falcone said.

Sherri Turner of Farmington, Melissa Morelli of Plymouth, Rebecca Holleran of Bristol, and 59-year-old Chrystal Collins faced charges of failure to report abuse, neglect or injury of a child.

Falcone said that during the past year and a half since the investigation began, the district fully cooperated with investigations by the Department of Children and Families and the Plymouth Police Department.

“Two of the employees have retired,” the superintendent said. “We have conducted our own internal investigation of the two remaining employees, who were placed on administrative leave while the investigations were pending. The conduct of each of these individuals has been reviewed thoroughly and carefully. One teacher will remain on administrative leave until further notice and one teacher will be permitted to return to their assignment at Plymouth Center School.”

Falcone said the district treated all of the individuals involved in the situation fairly based on what came out of the investigation.

“We would not return a teacher to the classroom if we had any reservations that it would compromise the safety of our children,” he said. “Under the district’s current administration, we reported these individuals to the authorities, have acted swiftly, and have been as transparent as possible throughout this process. Additionally, we have brought in specialized instructors to provide individualized mandated reporter training in each of our schools.”

The superintendent said that all of the district’s employees are required to report allegations of abuse or neglect to DCF as mandated reporters and are not to investigate such matters themselves until DCF and the police indicated that such investigations will not interfere with their investigation, and only then in consultation with the Central Office.

“Failure to do so is inconsistent with the law and our district policies, and will not be tolerated,” he said.

According to Eschert’s arrest warrant, 13 victims described various acts of sexual abuse in the school. Those victims also said their complaints about it were not taken seriously.

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