Ex-teacher facing sex charges to testify today
Published: September 11, 2012
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ST. CROIX - When the child molestation trial against former elementary school teacher Tydel John resumes today, John is expected to take the stand in his own defense as the final witness in the defense's case.
The trial is now in its third and final week in V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks' courtroom.
John is charged with multiple counts of child molestation, unlawful sexual contact and child abuse in connection with three different arrests since 2007. The cases have been consolidated.
John was arrested three separate times: Dec. 5, 2007; in April of 2008; and in August 2009. In the first two arrests, he was charged with molesting girls between the ages of 8 and 13 as he taught at two different schools on the island. While on pre-trial release, he was charged with touching a girl in Mutual Homes.
The trial began Aug. 28, and when jurors return to the courtroom Monday they heard short testimony from one of John's former colleagues and from his wife.
Cheryl Carr, a reading teacher at Evelyn Williams School, testified that she was the teacher who requested that the outreach counselors speak to the students at her school about "good and bad touches" in 2007. Carr said there was no particular reason for that other than the fact that she saw the presentation done at another school and thought that the students in the sixth grade could benefit from the discussion.
John's wife, Laverne John, testified that she had been married to John for 22 years and has two daughters, 28 and 17, with him. She testified that while John was teaching at Evelyn Williams School, they lived within walking distance from the school, and he came home every day for lunch and then took a nap before he went back.
In cross-examination, Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Pool Davis asked whether Laverne John had been one of Tydel John's students. The woman said yes, but when asked whether she was his student when they got married, defense attorney Martial Webster objected to the questions. After a brief sidebar, Willocks instructed the jury to disregard the question that had been asked because it was irrelevant.
The final defense witness Monday was psychologist Chester Coopeman, who testified that he analyzed the interviews done with Tydel John's accusers and made a determination that based on the methodology that was used, their answers are not very reliable. He said while the interviews used the question-and-answer approach, the manner in which the questions were asked may have violated some of the best practices in interviewing child victims of molestation.
Sometime today, Willocks also is expected to make a ruling on a Rule 29 motion for dismissal on John's behalf. Webster argued last week that the charges against Tydel John should be dismissed because the prosecution had failed to present sufficient evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Davis argued that she believed the evidence was clear and that the prosecution had proved its case that John molested the girls and that they had suffered emotional injury as a result.
On Friday, Willocks dismissed two of the 19 counts that had been filed against John and took seven additional counts relative to child abuse under advisement.
The case resumes at 9 a.m. today.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.