BHS teacher charged with sexual exploitation - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

BHS teacher charged with sexual exploitation

Posted: Updated:
Giovanna Yaranga Giovanna Yaranga
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

She was supposed to be his mentor and high school Spanish teacher. Now Giovanna Yaranga, 44, is facing four felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

"This is an abuse of trust. It's an abuse of power by Ms. Yaranga," said Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan.

Donovan said the relationship unraveled on April 29 when a Burlington Police officer spotted Yaranga and a 17-year-old male in the backseat of her car. They were parked behind the Maltex building on Pine Street at night.  
    
"Because she's a teacher, because she has this control and authority over her students, because there are parents in this community who have students, the public's got a right to know," Donovan said.

The 17-year-old honors student at Burlington High told police he has taken several classes with Yaranga -- even traveling with her to Peru on a school trip. He described Yaranga as a "second mother" he could talk to. But also said they've had sex about 10 times since last fall -- setting up meetings via text message -- then allegedly engaging in sexual acts in Yaranga's car, area hotels and the victim's home.
    
Yaranga pled not guilty and told police the boy is confused. She claims she encouraged him to date people his own age -- even her daughter.   

"This is a woman -- by all accounts -- was a good teacher, was respected in the community and it's a case that certainly I think a lot of people are going to be asking themselves why or how could this have happened," Donovan said.

In a statement, Burlington's Superintendent called the case deeply upsetting:

"... the safety of our students is the District's priority. The District had no evidence of physical improprieties or sexual misconduct by Ms. Yaranga. The faculty, staff and administration are well aware of their obligations as mandatory reporters of child abuse and have and will continue to fully comply with those requirements."

But did the school do all the could to protect this student? According to court paperwork, Principal Amy Mellencamp did not seem surprised when police informed her about the allegations.

"It's all about who knew what, when," Donovan said.

Mellencamp told police she just warned Yaranga the previous day about her relationship with the victim after multiple parents complained about the two dining together in public. Police are continuing to investigate if there are other victims.

Yaranga is on paid administrative leave while the criminal case plays out. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison. The school district said its conducting its own internal investigation. They sent a letter out to parents Monday afternoon explaining the situation and asking parents to call the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations if they have additional information.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Winooski man killed in motorcycle accident

    Winooski man killed in motorcycle accident

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:12 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:12:18 GMT
    There's been a tragedy on the Burlington beltway Thursday night. Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltway. The name has been releasedMore >>
    Burlington Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltline.More >>
  • Stowe couple dead in murder-suicide

    Stowe couple dead in murder-suicide

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:08:04 GMT
    Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
    A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags.
    More >>
  • Leicester man charged with shootings appears in court

    Leicester man charged with shootings appears in court

    Thursday, April 17 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:58:26 GMT
    A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
    A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
  • Woman sentenced in Vt. crash that killed motorcyclist

    Woman sentenced in Vt. crash that killed motorcyclist

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
    A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
    A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
  • Man charged in Vt. cruiser crushing has June trial

    Man charged in Vt. cruiser crushing has June trial

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:34 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:34:06 GMT
    A Vermont man accused of crushing seven sheriffs' vehicles with a farm tractor is scheduled for trial in June.More >>
    A Vermont man accused of crushing seven sheriffs' vehicles with a farm tractor is scheduled for trial in June.More >>
  • Teen arrested in St. Albans bomb threat

    Teen arrested in St. Albans bomb threat

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
    A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
    Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>
  • Missing Rutland woman found safe

    Missing Rutland woman found safe

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:01 GMT
    A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington. Police say Grace Maddaloni, 88, disappeared Wednesday after what they called a "disagreement." Because of her age and being in theMore >>
    A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington.More >>
  • Big buyer for Big Blue?

    Big buyer for Big Blue?

    Thursday, April 17 2014 7:07 PM EDT2014-04-17 23:07:19 GMT
    IBM and chip production may soon be parting ways. The Wall Street Journal reports that Big Blue is looking to unload three chipmaking plants-- two in upstate New York and its Vermont plant in Essex Junction.More >>
    With indications IBM may sell off its chipmaking plants, we talked to the company experts say may buy them. GlobalFoundries already has employees working at IBM in Essex Junction through a partnership, and experts say that could help the company decide whether the plant is a worthy investment.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.