Sexual assault expert who spoke to Tydel John's class testifies
Published: September 5, 2012
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ST. CROIX - As the child molestation case against former elementary school teacher Tydel John began its second week in V.I. Superior Court, jurors heard testimony sexual assault outreach specialists whose visit to an elementary school prompted students to come forward.
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 and are being heard by Judge Harold Willocks.
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, which began Aug. 28, resumed Tuesday, and jurors heard from Shalimar Hodge Thurland and Darlene Springer whose presentation on "good touches and bad touches" prompted students at Evelyn Williams Elementary School to report that John had been touching them inappropriately.
Thurland and Springer both testified that they had been asked to come to the school by a teacher, who thought their presentations would be beneficial for the sixth-grade students.
Thurland said that during the presentation she discussed that a bad touch could come from anyone, even a family member, priest or other student. She said students were responding to her, and one of the male students said even a teacher could give a bad touch. She testified that all of the students agreed and looked directly at John, who was standing at the back of the classroom.
"I let them know that if anyone had a question or concern, they could write it down or come see us outside the classroom," Thurland testified.
About five girls reported at that time that they had been touched, and Thurland referred them to the school administration, she testified. Administrators called the police, and Thurland called the V.I. Human Services Department so further investigation and interviews could be conducted.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Martial Webster asked Thurland whether she had known John before she met him at Evelyn Williams School. She said John was her sister's teacher at Good Hope School, and she had heard about reports of him touching at least one student. When asked whether she had organized the presentation to question the students about John, Thurland said no.
Earlier in the day, Jewel Ross Brathwaite, the former principal at Eulalie Rivera School, testified about John's involuntary transfer from Rivera Elementary to Evelyn Williams School. Brathwaite said John worked at Rivera for three years but grown very disrespectful. She said she reprimanded him after several parents complained about him using corporal punishment with the children and about his rude outbursts.
"I referred him to go to anger management, and he said he would not go," Brathwaite testified. "I was the one who asked that he be removed from that school."
Webster asked Brathwaite whether she had a falling out with John because their educational philosophies were different and whether she once told John that he was wasting time with the low-income children.
Brathwaite said that she and John had different educational philosophies but that she never degraded the children.
Jurors have heard testimony from some of John's accusers and former students at Good Hope School, as well as from school officials, the custodian of records at Luis Hospital, two police officers and a police detective.
Prosecutors said they plan to call about three dozen witnesses in the case.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.