Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Day 1: Trial of MCPS Cloverly Elementary School Teacher John Vigna

The trial of MCPS Cloverly Elementary School teacher John Vigna was not covered by the media. The Parents' Coalition is providing the public with notes from the trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court.  
This is not a transcript.  
The trial was before Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge David Boynton. 

Here are notes from day one of the trial, June 6, 2017.

June 6, 2017
9:40 AM
Potential jurors are brought in to the courtroom and the jury is selected.

2:00 PM
State makes their opening statement.

2:11 PM The defense attorney (John Vigna's attorney) gave his opening statement.

  • Defense described accusations as repugnant, even Mr. Vigna finds these accusations repugnant.  Defense attorney says that accusations did not occur.
  • Everything comes up because of a Body Safety presentation.  It goes overboard talking about good touch, bad touch.  That was instigating factor in these reports, except for adult who remembered sitting on Mr. Vigna's lap.
  • Students loved Mr. Vigna.  Story of dedication.  Observed his sister teaching and how she was able to engage her students.  He decided that you reach students in elementary school because by high school teachers are more like prison wardens than teachers.  
  • Became one of the most popular teachers at Cloverly Elementary School.  Students would come back to his class at lunch and after school.  He always had the snacks, had the jokes, had the hug for the students that had a hard day.
  • The administration did not like this bonding.  2008 custodian saw him and he received a reprimand.  2013 another reprimand for insubordination and was told to avoid having contact with students.  If a child comes up with tears in his eyes, Mr. Vigna is not going to push that student away  
  • Showing love to a child is not a crime, it is what you do when you are taking care of kids.  Popular teacher, coach, friend.
  • Jurors have to weigh the testimony in this case, evaluate the credibility
  • Jurors role is to decide if state's case is true or just from over active imaginations fostered by police and social workers.
  • Jurors will be convinced that Mr. Vigna is not the type of person to commit these offenses and that these offenses never actually occurred.

State calls Witness #1

Student testifies about giving Mr. Vigna a quick hug on her way to her bus.

While watching videos, sometimes Mr. Vigna would have someone on his lap.
He would have his hands in his lap.  His hands would be on his lap with his palms facing upwards.   Body Safety lesson had charts about what part of body should not be touched.
Her bus was one of the last ones called  and he would give her and other kids left in the classroom candy or snacks almost every day. Only kids that were good that day would get snacks.
Went every day after school.  Hugs were every day.  His hands were on lower back during hugs.

cross examination

Witness #1 did not think anything was wrong about sitting in Mr. Vigna's lap until the Body Safety class. Witness #1 thought Mr. Vigna was a pretty great teacher.  Was too embarrassed to tell anyone else.

State calls Witness #2:

#2 went to see Mr. Vigna almost every day after school.  #2 liked Mr. Vigna.  Gave him a hug. side hug, used only one arm, put his hand on her butt, ran out into the hall, did not tell mother what had happened

cross examination:
Classroom was full when she went into the class. She did not tell anyone because he was such a great teacher and so well loved she thought it was just an accident and would never happen again.

State calls Witness #3:

Witness #2 told #3 about something that had recently happened to her.  #2 said she was hugging Mr. Vigna and while she was hugging him he touched her butt.

no cross

State calls Cloverly Elementary School Counselor:

Cloverly Elementary School counselor

2016 pilot year of Body Safety Class
mandated to do two grade levels - 1st and 4th but option to do all grade levels
3 county approved lessons - only mandated to do one - counselors choose which one to do
She did a combination of two lessons - abuse physical, emotional and touch
teaches class with the classroom teacher in the room
Witness #1 told her about Mr. Vigna touching her butt.

Cross examination:

School counselor would bring her children to work and leave her children in Mr. Vigna's class.
she was aware of 2013 complaint against Mr. Vigna.


  1. Bottom line, will the sentencing next month deter others?

  2. Thank you for sharing this!


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