NEWS

Former St. John High School teacher under alleged sexual misconduct investigation

Andrew Green agreen@postsouth.com
A former St. John High teacher is under investigation for alleged inappropriate behavior between a teacher and a student. The investigation is ongoing and will be eventually turned over to the District Attorney's office by the end of August, estimates Chief of Police Kenny Payne.

An Investigative Unit with the Plaquemine Police Department is analyzing over 40,000 text messages on a teacher’s phone sent to and from multiple St. John High students that may be deemed inappropriate.

         The Police Department received a complaint first filed by the principal of the school in December 2014.  The principal received a tip of alleged misconduct between a teacher and a student and then reported it to the police under the state’s mandatory reporting laws.

         The teacher has since resigned from the school when the complaint was filed.

         “I don’t have enough to make an arrest,” Chief of Police Kenny Payne said.  “Unfortunately law enforcement can’t work on rumors.  Until someone will come forward and tell me officially, there’s not much I can do about it.”

         The Investigative Unit has been going through an itemized list of when text messages were sent to and from the teacher’s phone, but does not show the content of the messages.

         “There was a great amount of text messages that were sent to numbers that ended up being students,” Payne said.  Once the report is complete, it will be turned over to the District Attorney’s office, which will be reviewed to be sent to a grand jury.

         Kenny Payne’s son attends the school and he volunteers his time as a coach and member of the Father’s Club, he says he will give no special treatment to anyone.  “If anyone is violating the law, especially when it comes to harming a child, I would throw the book at them,” Payne said.  “I will do anything within my power to make sure that the people are brought to justice.  In this case I have very limited evidence.  I’m trying to do this investigation as thoroughly as possible.”

         The investigation is currently ongoing and no names involved with the case can yet be released.  Payne estimates that everything will be turned over to the District Attorney’s office by the end of August.

         The Diocese of Baton Rouge released the following statement:  “The school administration did not receive a verifiable complaint, but it did contact local authorities about information brought to its attention and has fully cooperated with those authorities.  The teacher is no longer employed at the school, having resigned in January 2015. This is a personnel matter and, due to privacy policies, we cannot discuss it further.”