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Parents complain: Vineland school aide in adult films ID’d as Crystal Gunns

VINELAND,NJ — A recent discovery that a D’Ippolito Elementary School teacher’s aide had a previous career in the adult entertainment industry has resulted in parents complaining to school officials.

Board of Education President Frank Giordano is unhappy with the situation and personally feels the woman should be fired. But Superintendent Charles “Chalky” Ottinger said the district has been advised against taking action.

“Not that we don’t want to,” Ottinger said.

Louisa C. Tuck of Vineland, a cafeteria and playground aide at the school, who also works with children at the YMCA of Vineland, starred in adult- oriented movies, performances and photo shoots under the name Crystal Gunns.

She told The Daily Journal it has been five years since she was involved in the adult entertainment industry.

However, the films and several other nude and seminude photographs of her are readily available on the Internet.

Crystalgunns.com, a Web site with photos and videos of Gunns, was accessible when school officials started an investigation earlier this month. However, within the past two weeks, site administrators made the home page of the Web site password-protected.

Gunns’ work largely consists of racy photo shoots and solo performances.

She’s been a cover model for Score Magazine, an adult-oriented publication, and has done several photo shoots and interviews for the magazine. The performer has appeared or starred in at least three adult videos, all of which are described as solo performances. In one video clip available on the Internet, Gunns is seen engaging in a sexual act with a man, but does not have intercourse.

In an interview with The Daily Journal, Gunns defended her ability to work around children despite her past career in adult entertainment.

“If this is about morality, our president-elect has admitted to doing crack, and he’s our president. Does that make him a bad person?” Tuck said. “Bill Clinton smoked pot. Does that make him a bad person?”

Tuck’s comment about the president-elect was a reference to Barack Obama, who in one of his books admitted to using cocaine while he was a high school student. Obama did not say he used crack.

Ottinger and Giordano said Vineland Public Schools officials had no idea Tuck had been involved in the adult entertainment industry when they hired her in June for a $5,772-a-year part-time job as a D’Ippolito aide.

School district and New Jersey School Board Association attorneys recently advised Vineland officials they have no legal grounds to fire Tuck based of her past employment, Ottinger said.

Frank DiDomenico, an associate solicitor for the school board, said the district got legal opinions from him, board associate solicitor Harold B. Shapiro and NJSBA lawyer Michael F. Kaelber.

“It’s a constitutional privilege of free expression. She’s employed by the school district, but that doesn’t take away her constitutional rights,” DiDomenico said.

While there is certain information school district officials can request during the interview process, such as a criminal background, DiDomenico said he didn’t see what they could do to learn if an applicant has a background in the adult entertainment industry.

“There’s no way the board could delve into someone’s private life,” he said.
‘It’s not illegal’

A Web search of the name Crystal Gunns produces several pages of links to sites that include photos, videos and other information about the performer. A review by The Daily Journal found none that mentioned Gunns’ real name is Louisa Tuck.

Gunns appeared on an episode of “The Jenny Jones Show” about people who improved their looks and wanted to confront people from their past who had teased them. In a video clip of the show, available on YouTube, a picture of Tuck as a teenager is shown on screen before Gunns appears to cheers and applause.

Ottinger said the district didn’t know about Tuck’s former lifestyle and added “that type of thing” is not revealed in a background check.

“I don’t know what you could do,” he said. “It’s one thing if it’s an illegal activity, because that would come up in the check. There is no way for us to know if a person is involved in these types of activities.”

However, Ottinger said, school officials would continue to look into the situation and determine their options, keeping the best interest of the children in mind.

“We have no real legal stance or legal right to do anything for two reasons — one, it’s not illegal, and two, it’s not on school time,” Ottinger said.
Parents complain

D’Ippolito Principal Gail M. Curcio sent an e-mail last week to Vineland Public Schools’ executive director of personnel, Maryann Greenfield, that said, “Louisa Tuck’s Web site has reached the hands of the parents.”

About two hours later, Ottinger wrote in an e-mail to Board of Education members that the district investigated the possibility a staff member participated in a pornographic Web site. He said the district determined, “We do have such an employee who works at D’Ippolito School as an aide.”

In the same e-mail, Ottinger wrote that Curcio “has received several calls from parents complaining about this situation.” He noted the district’s central office also had received calls.

It is not clear how many parents complained to school officials.

Curcio did not return three messages left for her at her office this week by The Daily Journal.
‘People can change’

George Steinbronn Jr., executive director and chief executive officer at the YMCA of Vineland on East Landis Avenue, declined comment on Tuck, citing personnel issues.

Tuck, who said she works as a supervisor for some children’s programs at the YMCA, spoke highly of the YMCA of Vineland and its employees.

“The YMCA has been great to me. They are a Christian place that believes that people can change. I’m sorry I had to put them through this,” Tuck said.

Tuck declined additional comment on multiple occasions over the past two weeks. She did not respond to a list of questions she asked The Daily Journal to submit to her in advance. Her Vineland-based lawyer Jeffrey DiLazzero also declined to speak on the record.

Shawn Rivers of Vineland has two children in the preschool program at the YMCA. She considers herself a close friend of Tuck’s and said she “would trust her with my children at any time.”

“She has nothing but love and compassion with all kids,” Rivers said.

She called Tuck “an excellent role model with good values,” adding she is appalled Tuck’s background would make news.

“There’s never been a problem with her reputation or conduct,” Rivers said. “And I just want everyone to know that.”
High expectations

Both Ottinger and Giordano couldn’t recall, during the time they spent with Vineland Public Schools, any employee who was involved or participated in pornography or adult entertainment. Ottinger became superintendent in 2006 and was a principal at Vineland High School the 12 years prior, and Giordano has spent 11 years on the school board.

Giordano, who emphasized he was speaking personally and not on behalf of the board or district officials, said he understands why parents are concerned. He said if he were a parent, he would be concerned, too.

“I don’t know all the details, whether it’s active or inactive,” he said of the Web site. “I don’t think it’s a healthy situation. Period.”

Giordano said he doesn’t know Tuck and said she “could be one of the best aides we have,” but her involvement in the adult entertainment industry makes him question how good of a role model she can be for students.

“Not speaking on behalf of Chalky or the school board members — if it were up to me, I would terminate the individual and worry about where the chips are going to fall after,” Giordano said.

Giordano clarified he was not saying what the district will do, just how he would react.

“At least I could say to parents: ‘We terminated the employee. We had no choice. Here’s the court order,'” he said.

“Do I understand a crime was not committed? Absolutely,” Giordano continued. “But knowing it? I can’t live with that.”

Ottinger said Vineland Public Schools officials have “very high expectations” for their employees, who should be examples students can emulate.

“I think, without being judgmental, the thing I want to say most is we have an expectation for all the employees to be held to the highest standards,” he said. “It’s our desire that that exist both in and out of school. We want them to be held to the highest standards.”

Staff writer J. Staas Haught contributed to this report.

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