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Teachers deny lewdness at Bills game

Two elementary school teachers in the Wilson Central district pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Orchard Park Town Court to charges of public lewdness during a Buffalo Bills game in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Michael France, 38, of Ridge Road, Lockport, and Jennifer Rotella, 35, of Curtis Avenue, Lockport, entered the pleas before Town Justice Edward A. Pace.

The judge allowed them to remain free without bail to await further proceedings at 4 p.m. Jan. 17.

Erie County sheriff's deputies arrested them at the Dec. 4 football game between the Bills and the Tennessee Titans. The school district is looking into reports that the two teachers were having sex in a restroom at the stadium.

France is a teacher at Thomas Marks Elementary School, and Rotella teaches at W.H. Stevenson Elementary School.

Wilson School Superintendent Michael S. Wendt said shortly after their arrest that the district "will be undertaking an investigation to look into this matter," but he would not comment on the status of the teachers or whether they had been removed from their classrooms.

He could not be reached Tuesday evening to comment further.

France was represented in court Tuesday by attorney Rodney A. Giove, and Rotella by attorney Robert M. Restaino.

The superintendent is required by law to report to the state Education Department any teacher who has been "convicted of a crime, or has committed an act which raises a reasonable question as to the individual's moral character." After an investigation and hearing, the state education commissioner could decide whether to discipline the teachers.