Warning: This story contains content that some may find disturbing.
PLYMOUTH, Conn. (WTNH) — The criminal charges against four educators accused of failing to report allegations of sexual abuse of multiple students by a former Plymouth Center School teacher have been dismissed, the district’s superintendent confirmed.
Superintendent Brian Falcone sent a letter to the school community on Wednesday, providing an update on the case against former fourth-grade teacher James Eschert.
Eschert’s criminal case remains pending, Falcone said. Four other educators — Chrystal Collins, Melissa Morelli, Rebecca Holleran, and Sherri Turner — were facing charges of failure to report abuse, neglect or injury of a child.
“The criminal cases of four other current and former employees have been dismissed through operation of the court process,” Falcone said.
Falcone said the district has fully cooperated with investigations by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) 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 everyone involved in the allegations “fairly based on the facts as they are established at the conclusion 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 continued.
Eschert was arrested in January 2022 and charged with two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and five counts of risk of injury for alleged incidents during the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2019-20 school years. Eschert’s arrest warrant includes details and information from 13 alleged victims who claimed Eschert inappropriately touched female students, made comments about their bodies, bought gifts for them, and invited them to private lunches and meals at his home.
Falcone said that all district employees must report allegations of abuse or neglect to DCF as mandated reporters.
“Failure to do so is inconsistent with the law and our district policies, and will not be tolerated,” Falcone said. “As a school district, the safety and well-being of our students will always be our top priority and we reaffirm our commitment moving forward to act in their best interest, as you entrust us to educate them safely and protect them from harm.”
Eschert remains out on a $150,000 bond. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for March 7 in New Britain Superior Court.
Read the superintendent’s letter below.