Silver Spring, MD – John Vigna, former teacher at Cloverly Elementary School, was sentenced this month to 48 years in prison for sexual assaults on children over the course of 15 years.

Vigna had been previously warned in 2008 about his physical contact with students.  He was found on a number of occasions placing students in his lap.  After a third complaint against him in 2013, he signed a pledge to avoid, “any physical contact at all” with any student.  He was never removed from the classroom even after a top district official reprimanded Vigna in 2013.

Melissa Brunson, principal of Cloverly Elementary School while Vigna was a teacher, said she did not see the accusations against Vigna as child abuse.  She followed protocols at the time of the incidents and contacted human resources.  She testified that she did not contact Child Protective Services, which is now required by state law.

During the following school year a third grade student said Vigna would frequently touch her chest, butt and vagina as well as have her sit on his lap in class while watching movies.

Another victim said the teacher would touch her inappropriately on a weekly basis.  He told her he would often drive by her house to see if she was outside.  The mother of this victim testified that Vigna’s actions caused her daughter to develop severe stomach problems and she would often resist going to school.

The accusations were denied by Vigna who stated placing students on his knee was a form of reassurance, treating them as though they were his own children. 

Vigna taught at the elementary school for more than 20 years in the third, fourth and fifth grades. He was such a popular teacher which caused a split in the community between those who sided with him or those with the children.  Supporters were seen wearing black “#vignastrong” bracelets.

Vigna was ultimately charged with four counts of sexual abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex offense.

I applaud all the victims for their bravery and coming forward.  The sentencing will keep Vigna from victimizing any more children.

 

For the full article:

www.washingtonpost.com

 

Photo credits: 

(Top) Tim Ho /Tim Ho Photography

(Bottom) Montgomery County Police