The Cross High School teacher who is accused of having sex with three students is free on bail but forbidden to enter the Cross community until her case is decided.

Ellen Lindsay Niemiec, 29, of Summerville faces three counts of sexual battery of a student. Two of the charges are felonies, since two of the alleged victims were 17 years old. The other student was 18 years old.

Niemiec is accused of having sex with the students at a house in Berkeley County on April 11.

The incident was reported to school staff, who called in the sheriff's office to investigate.

Arrest warrants were issued and she turned herself in at the sheriff's office Thursday.

Berkeley County Magistrate James Polk set her bail at $21,092 Thursday night. He also told her to stay out of Cross and have no contact with the high school students there.

Berkeley County Detective Brian Fenton read a statement stressing the seriousness of the charges.

"She was entrusted with educating and keeping her students safe," Fenton said. "That's the trust she violated. The Cross community is a very tight-knit, small community. In small communities the school is the center of the community. When a teacher violates her students' trust, she essentially violates the whole community's trust."

Niemiec is married and has three young children, according to her attorney, David Aylor. He said he has not had a chance to talk with Niemiec about what, if anything, happened.

"Obviously, this is the very beginning of the case," he said. "This is obviously extremely difficult for her and her family."

Niemiec was placed on administrative leave when the allegations surfaced and she is no longer employed at Cross High, the Berkeley County School District said Thursday in a statement.

"The safety of all students is the top priority of the Berkeley County School District," said the district. "Under no circumstances does the Berkeley County School District condone or tolerate any inappropriate conduct between its employees and students."

The families of at least some of the alleged victims were in bond court Thursday but declined to speak to the judge or the press. They are represented by attorney Mike Bosnak.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.