Teacher guilty of 12 counts of child sex abuse
Published: September 15, 2012
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ST. CROIX - A Superior Court jury took just more than four hours in deliberations Friday before returning guilty verdicts on the majority of charges against former elementary school teacher Tydel John, who was convicted of 12 of 16 counts of child sex abuse.
As the verdicts were read, John sat attentively in his seat, but he showed no reaction to the reading of the verdicts by the foreman.
John, 60, was charged with seven counts each of child abuse and unlawful sexual contact in addition to two counts of first-degree aggravated rape in connection with three different arrests since 2007.
John was arrested three 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 housing community.
Following three weeks of testimony that began Aug. 28, the jury began deliberating just before 10 a.m. Friday and broke for lunch about noon. Just before 3:30 p.m., they indicated to the court that they had reached a decision.
Jurors found John guilty on all of the counts with the exception of the child abuse, unlawful sexual contact and aggravated rape involving the student at Good Hope School whose parents had filed a lawsuit against the school and had come to a confidential settlement in District Court.
They found him not guilty on the count of unlawful sexual contact involving a 10-year-old girl who had testified that John touched her buttocks as he left an apartment in Mutual Homes while he was on pre-trial release after he was charged with the violation of the other girls.
On Thursday, V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks had granted a motion for dismissal on a single count child abuse in connection with the incident involving that same girl. Willocks said prosecutors did not prove the child abuse charge because they charged the offense conjunctively and did not present any testimony or other evidence that John blew a kiss at the girl after touching her buttocks.
Following the verdict, Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Poole-Davis said that the prosecution was pleased with the outcome and that justice had been done.
"We really don't want to see Tydel John back in our school system again, and with these convictions, we know our schools and our students will be much safer," she said.
The case agent, V.I. Police Detective Naomi Joseph, said the convictions have been a long time coming and during the five years she has seen the monster that John is and what he has done to his victims. Now he will be in jail, where he belongs, and not in the classroom, she said.
"There were other victims who we could not charge him with because of the statute of limitations," she said. "He victimized at every school he taught at, and many of these girls are now women, but they remembered, and they came back to help bring him to justice so there would be no more victims at his hands."
John's attorney, Martial Webster, said he was disappointed by the verdict.
"This was based on speculation and accusations, not facts, not evidence," he said.
Webster said he will appeal the conviction.
During closing arguments that were heard on Thursday, Davis took the jurors through a review of the testimony they have heard and the evidence they have seen in court during the last few weeks.
Davis asked the jurors to remember all of the testimony of the various accusers and other student witnesses as they relived the accounts of the violations so many years ago that still has an impact on their lives. She said asked the jury to remember that out of all of the testimony that was heard, John's was the only account that denied that anything happened in those classroom.
In his closing arguments, Webster told the jurors to use their own recollection and common sense to weed through the inconsistencies of the prosecutions case. He said one of the girls testified that she had been coached on what to say when she came to the witness stand and other girls' stories just did not make sense.
John testified last week that the allegations against him go against everything he believes in as a classroom teacher. He denied touching any of the girls during class or on lunch period or after school.
During the course of almost three weeks of testimony, jurors heard from John's accusers, outreach specialists, a therapeutic specialist, hospital officials, school officials, a counselor from the V.I. Human Services Department, police detectives, police officers, former principals, two parents, former colleagues, former students, John's sister, his wife, a psychologist, a child psychologist and John, who took the stand as the final witness.
Willocks scheduled sentencing in John's case to take place at 10 a.m. Nov. 9.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.