A South Carolina high-school teacher is facing criminal charges for allegedly having sex with three of her own students.
Ellen Lindsay Niemiec, 29, an instructor at Cross High School in Berkeley County, is now free on bail, but has been banned from contacting the Cross community until her case is decided.
Niemiec is accused of having sex with the teen boys at a house party in Berkeley County on April 11. She faces two felony charges of sexual battery, since two of the victims were 17, while the third was 18, resulting in a misdemeanor charge.
Once the incident was reported to school staff, the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office began an investigation, and reportedly discovered the misconduct had been taking place for several weeks.
"It started with dirty talk, then they were texting. She was texting nude pictures and that kind of stuff. Then just from there, it just went on," Mike Bosnak, an attorney representing all three students, told WCIV-TV.
"Some of it took place at the school. She also was picking one of them up in the morning and had sex with him in the morning and then in the afternoon."
Berkeley County Detective Brian Fenton read a statement in court stressing the seriousness of the charges.
"She was entrusted with educating and keeping her students safe," Fenton said. "That's the trust she violated. The Cross community is a very tight-knit, small community. In small communities the school is the center of the community. When a teacher violates her students' trust, she essentially violates the whole community's trust."
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Niemiec is married with three children, according to her attorney David Aylor, who maintains his client is innocent, saying the sheriff's office has not provided much evidence at this point.
"She feels for the Cross community that this situation has occurred," Aylor told WCIV. "She is saddened for anybody affected including her own family and any alleged victims."
Berkeley County Magistrate James Polk set bail for Niemiec at $21,092. He also ordered her to stay out of Cross High and have no contact with any of the school's students.
Niemiec was initially placed on administrative leave when the allegations first surfaced, and she is no longer employed at Cross High, having resigned her position.
"The safety of all students is the top priority of the Berkeley County School District," officials said in a statement. "Under no circumstances does the Berkeley County School District condone or tolerate any inappropriate conduct between its employees and students."