A teacher at Daniel Hand High School in Madison accused of sending half-naked photos to two teenage students and performing oral sex on one of them has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault.
Allison J. Marchese, 37, of Madison, appeared in court Tuesday, where she pleaded not guilty to second-degree sexual assault, risk of injury and impairing the morals of a child. She was arrested earlier this month.
She has taught English and Language Arts at Daniel Hand High since September 2003 and has also served as the high school yearbook adviser and supervisor of the Polson Middle School fitness center, according to the warrant for her arrest.
Investigators said Marchese had developed an "electronic relationship" with a 15-year-old boy, who was in her freshman English class during the 2013-2014 school year.
She would call him into her classroom to talk during his free periods. Soon after, they followed each other on the photo sharing app Instagram, where Marchese told him she "could not concentrate during class because he was so good looking and she could not sleep at night because she was thinking about him," the warrant says.
Over the summer, he asked her to stop contacting him. Two days before the start of the 2014-2015 school year, Marchese sent him another message saying "he broke her heart and betrayed her," then apologized the next day and said she had been drunk, according to the warrant.
That fall, she turned her attention to a 17-year-old football player, the warrant says. Marchese started pulling him out of class several times a week, and they followed each other on Instagram, where started messaging him "inappropriately."
Then, in December, "Marchese called him to her classroom during the fourth period of the school day and performed oral sex on him," according to the arrest warrant.
The student told his brother he was "freaking out" and needed a way to keep Marchese away from him. He asked her for $200 in exchange for his silence, the warrant says.
In response, Marchese told the 15-year-old and another student the 17-year-old was "blackmailing her for money because of a mistake she had made," the warrant says. She said "her father was an abusive man who had spent time in jail, had contacts in the Mafia and would tell his boys in New York" to make sure the 17-year-old never played football again.
Before the school suspended her, police interviewed Marchese and confronted her about a revealing picture she had sent to one of the students. She told them she took it for her husband and declined to answer when police asked if she had sent it to a student, according to the arrest warrant.
Marchese was emotional in court Tuesday and her attorney, William Dow, said outside the courthouse that the case has been difficult for everyone involved.
"This is not a locker room joke. Everybody – everybody in this case has been affected by some tragic event, and that's influenced their actions," Dow said.
Marchese is not a United States citizen and the judge ordered her to surrender her passport.
Madison Supt. Thomas Scarice released a statement, saying school officials immediately reported the incident to police after the Department of Children and Families informed them of the allegations against Marchese.
Marchese is due back in court on April 2.