Friday, July 28, 2017

Morning of Day 2: 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 two of the trial, June 7, 2017.

June 7, 2017

9:40 AM - Jurors return to courtroom

State calls Witness J. G. 
5th grade Cloverly Elementary School teacher

Knew Mr. Vigna at school professionally and outside of school.Body Safety class taught in her class. During class, saw student slumping down in her chair.Asked student if she was O.K.Student came back during dismissal and told her that you know how we all love Mr. Vigna, he touches us in ways that make us uncomfortable. He touches us on our butt and makes us sit on his lap and won't let us get up. Has known Mr. Vigna 9 years. A handful of times she would see Mr. Vigna with a student on his lap, students would approach him, hang around his desk.  She told Mr. Vigna that they needed to have a more professional relationship with students, trained by County to keep their distance. Mr. Vigna had a more relaxed environment with students. He was affectionate with students. She would tell him that as a male teacher he should not be alone with female students and keep your distance.  She and another teacher Mr. K, spoke to Mr. Vigna about his interactions with students. They spoke to Mr. Vigna about this more than once. He would say he wasn't doing anything wrong. Nothing that we observed was of a sexual nature, obviously if it was we would have reported it.  We were just looking out for professional guidelines. Assistant principal was notified of students statement (after Body Safety class). 

Cross examination:
After student made statement, student was allowed to go home on the bus.

State calls Witness #4:
24 year old, former Cloverly Elementary School student. 

Had Mr. Vigna for 4th grade in 2001-2002.  Mr. Vigna was a very compassionate person, had strong relationships with all of this students. Like Mr. Vigna when she was in 4th grade. There were times when she questioned what the relationship was.  Incident where she had to change her clothes, Mr. Vigna had her change her clothes in the classroom closet. She felt something was not right and felt very uncomfortable.  In later years she realized things were not right. We had to give him a kiss on the cheek every day before we left the classroom to go to our bus. Recall that sometimes his head would turn and she would feel the corner of his mouth, thought she went too far on his face.  He told a story about accidentally kissing a student on the lips.  She remembered it as a routine every day.  At the end of the day while we were waiting for the buses, he would have me and another classmate sit on his legs.  We were on his legs like horseback style.  His hands would be on our legs and I remember one specific instance where he was talking to some boys across the desk and every time he talked I felt his finger on my crotch.  Crotch would ride against his leg. She was on his lap a lot, at least once a week.  She remembers having a bond with him unlike with other teachers. His hand would move to touch her vagina every time he was engaging in conversation. Remembers seeing where his hand was on her thigh. Every time I was on one leg, other student was on other leg. Kissing good-bye was a routine.  Felt like she was one of his favorites. She never talked about what happened with Mr. Vigna.  It was not until she saw an article on Facebook about Mr. Vigna that she talked about what happened.  She called the number at the bottom of the article. 
Cross examination: 
Incidents were 15 years ago and there are things that you do not remember from that time, correct?  Witness says she remembers most of 4th grade. Mother approached her. There are things she remembers and things her mother remembers. Discussed incidents with 3 or 4 former Cloverly Elementary School students. Came to interview with police detective with another former student. When you were sitting on Mr. Vigna's leg was in the the classroom with lots of students around, correct? Yes. Mr. Vigna was favorite teacher. No walls in classroom. Nothing to restrict view. Mr. Vigna would be talking to other students.Students would change into Halloween costumes in classrooms. Two classrooms together.  No one else in the classroom on the day she was changing her clothes. Mr. Vigna was only teacher that would allow students to come to his classroom during recess when we were not supposed to do that.
Mother asked her if Mr. Vigna had touched her and she said no.  Mother did not talk to principal or call the police.

Re-direct by State:

One friend came to Mr. Vigna's defense.  Other friend mentioned that she could not recall incidences but very uncomfortable with Mr. Vigna's presence.  Several incidents where she felt unsafe.Mother had concerns about Mr. Vigna when she was in 4th grade. In 4th grade she was very defensive about Mr. Vigna.  One day she had come home and said that Mr. Vigna helped her zip up her pants. Mother asked about any other contact.Came forward after discussing random incidences with friends.  Decision to come forward was the fact that she does not want these type of incidences to happen to anyone else. Compelled to come forward for the greater common good.

State calls Witness Sara Kulow-Malave
Forensic Interviewer with Montgomery County Tree House Child Advocacy Center
Ms. Kulow-Malave gave her resume on work employment and training. Has done 1,070 interviews.Children come to the center and are interviewed with police and CPS observing so that child does not have to repeat story to different investigators.  Interview room is pretty plain to minimize distractions. A couple of chairs, two cameras on the wall and that is pretty much it.  She went over protocols for how she interviews children.Ms. Kulow-Malave interviewed Witness # 1 and Witness # 2. Diagram used when child was talking about certain body parts. 

State shows VIDEO of interview of Witness # 2 by Montgomery County Tree House Child Advocacy Center.Jurors handed written transcript of interview.  In video, Witness # 2 says she went into Mr. Vigna's classroom (Thursday before interview) and gave him a hug while he was sitting in his chair. She was standing up. Mr. Vigna put one hand on her butt. Other students were in the classroom, distracted. Mr. Vigna would give Witness # 1 treats, but she did not want any.  Mr. Vigna would grab a girl and put them on his lap and bounce them on his leg. He would hold them with his hands. Mostly Mr. Vigna hugging girls, boys would get high fives. Witness #1 would sit on Mr. Vigna's lap, but just on one leg, sideways.

Trial recessed for lunch break.


  1. This is day two of trial number one.

    1. There is no second trial at this time. Sentencing is next week.

    2. Wednesday, July 26, 2017
      Breaking News: MCPS teacher John Vigna files Motion for New Trial

    3. Again, there is no second trial at this time. That is just a motion to ask for one. The motion has been opposed by the State and the judge will rule on this next week at the sentencing.

    4. A-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n. . .

  2. Why is the 'media' reluctant or hesitant to cover these types of trials in MoCo?


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