OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A federal judge sentenced a former Long Island elementary school principal to 12 years in prison Friday for having sex with a 15-year-old Nebraska girl he met on the Internet.

John Monetti, 39, pleaded guilty in August to two counts of travel with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a juvenile. In return, prosecutors agreed to drop charges of sexual exploitation of a juvenile and computer enticement of a minor.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon also ordered Monetti to pay $31,000 to pay for counseling for the girl and court fees. After he completes his prison sentence, Monetti will serve five years of supervised release.

When he was arrested, Monetti, of St. James, N.Y., was working as a substitute teacher in the Commack School District on Long Island. He previously served as principal at the Dickinson Avenue Elementary School in the Northport-East Northport School District, and at William Floyd Elementary in the William Floyd School District.

Prosecutors have said Monetti in December 2005 began an Internet conversation with the girl, who was then 14.

Later Monetti bought the girl, who lived near Blair, Neb., a cellular phone so her parents would not become suspicious of their conversations.

In April 2006, Monetti made the first of four weekend flights from Long Island to Omaha to spend time with the girl, who had turned 15.

He rented a motel room in Blair, about 20 miles north of Omaha, and had sexual intercourse with the girl in the motel and inside a rental van.

Monetti was arrested in Washington County on May 29, 2006, when deputies found him in the rental van with the girl. Monetti was driving; the girl was in the front passenger seat, wearing pajamas.

Before his arrest, Monetti had also served on the board of trustees of the Knox School, a century-old prep school 60 miles from Manhattan, where Monetti graduated in 1986. Monetti also was a collegiate equestrian coach and an equestrian judge.

Head of Oprah school denies knowledge of allegations

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) – The former headmistress of Oprah Winfrey’s school for disadvantaged girls has denied being aware of allegations that a dormitory matron sexually assaulted and abused pupils.

Winfrey announced Monday that Nomvuyo Mzamane’s contract would not be renewed, indicating that school officials had ignored complaints from the girls and tried to keep allegations of abuse from her.

“Contrary to reports, I had no knowledge of abuse. I did not and would never participate in any such cover up,” Mzamane said in a statement issued Thursday through her U.S.-based lawyer.

Mzamane was suspended last month when allegations of abuse by one of the dormitory matrons surfaced.

Tiny Virginia Makopo, 27, faces 13 charges of indecent assault, assault and criminal injury committed against at least six students aged 13-15 and a 23-year-old at the school. Makopo, who said she was innocent, was freed on bail Monday.

Winfrey, who was a victim of child abuse herself, promised an overhaul of the school and said she had apologized to parents.

Winfrey opened her Leadership Academy for Girls outside Johannesburg on Jan. 2, with celebrities including Tina Turner and Spike Lee in attendance, as well as former President Nelson Mandela.

The lavish $40 million school was the fulfillment of a promise she made to Mandela six years ago, and aims to give girls from deprived backgrounds a quality education in a country where schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid.

AP-ES-11-09-07 0820EST


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