Ex-Elementary School Teacher Gets 48 Years for Child Sex Abuse
The former Maryland elementary school teacher was found guilty on four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex abuse.
A former Maryland teacher who worked in Montgomery County elementary schools for over twenty years was sentenced to 48 years in prison on Friday for child sex abuse charges.
John Vigna, 50, was convicted by a jury back in June on four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex offense.
Vigna had been working as a third-grade teacher at Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Springs, Maryland when the charges were brought against him in June 2016. He was placed on administrative leave beginning in February 2016 as the investigation was underway.
Vigna taught in the Montgomery County District school system since 1991 and ran both the computer club and the student safety patrol at Cloverly.
According to police, one of the girls’ abuse happened from August 2014 to February 2016. Vigna would reportedly move her body back and forth as he held her on his lap. When she tried to get off his lap, police say he would not let her go.
He also reportedly touched her buttocks on several occasions and would have inappropriate contact with her while hugging.
In February 2016, the second victim, a friend of the first victim, told her parents that Vigna rubbed both her and her friend’s buttocks after hugging them goodbye. Her parents contacted the police and Vigna was placed on leave.
The girl had recently taken a body safety class which teaches students to identify signs of inappropriate touching.
Three more alleged victims came forward following the allegations – the first is now in her twenties and says Vigna sexually abused her when she was a student between 2000 and 2002, the second says she was abused during her 2013-2014 school year, and the third says she was abused during her 2015-2016 school year.
Supporters and Opposers Speak at Sentencing
Vigna’s sentencing drew so many people that the courtroom reached capacity and had to be closed to those still waiting to get in, reports The Washington Post. Some were there in support of Vigna while others were there to support the victims.
Many of Vigna’s supporters donned black bracelets and t-shirts that read #vignastrong.
Montgomery County Circuit Judge David Boynton says he received numerous statements praising Vigna. One supporter described him as an exemplary teacher who loved his job.
Another supporter, Toni Patton, a former fourth-grade student of Vigna, says he was the reason why she became a teacher herself.
“He was blessed with a fatherly nature,” said Patton. “He created a place where children knew they were loved.”
Although Boynton stated that he spent hours reading letters that said “nothing but the most exemplary things”, he based his sentence off of experience. “Some really good people do really bad things.”
During the hearing, one of the parents of the victim’s called Vigna a “soul murderer”. Another said that her daughter has been given a life sentence because of what Vigna did to her.
Prosecutors read aloud statements from some of the victims. One wrote, “I am embarrassed and I am ashamed”. Another wrote, “I’m also having thoughts about dying. I cry a lot.”
Vigna’s supporters yelled “I love you, John,” as he was escorted out of the court room.
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