Sunday, July 30, 2017

Morning of Day 3: Trial of MCPS Cloverly Elementary School Teacher John Vigna - Mother Testifies about 2 Daughters

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 three of the trial, June 8, 2017.

June 8, 2017
Trial resumes 9:46 AM

Witness # 7 - Mother of Witnesses #5 and #6

Both of her girls had Mr. Vigna for 3rd grade.  Mother told that #5 liked 3rd grade, but then began to complain that she did not want to go to school.  #5 said she was nauseous and did not want to go to school.  Took #5 to doctors and to gastroenterologist. She had two endoscopes. When we changed schools she began to get better. Huge improvement when she went to new school. Now she is gaining weight. 
#6 first disclosed information about Mr. Vigna.  Mother talked to children about Mr. Vigna after he had been removed from school. 
Mr. Vigna moved #6 into his reading class when she was in 3rd grade.  She had started with a different reading teacher. One day #6 came home and told her mother that Mr. Vigna had said that #6's mother was a "cutie patootie" and that made #6 very uncomfortable.  #6 told her mother that Mr. Vigna told her that he would drive by their house and would feel better if they were home and he would feel sad if he saw their camper was gone. 
Mother took girls to talk to a social worker when she had concerns. She wanted girls to tell what happened in their own words.  When she took girls to the social worker, neither one knew about the other's experiences with Mr. Vigna.  It was when mother told #5 about #6 that #5 finally told her mother what had happened. 
#5 and #6 were so embarrassed and ashamed by what happened to them they did not want to tell anyone beside their mother.  They did not want their father to know what had happened. The girls talked to the social worker and decided that they were not going to let this happen to anyone else ever again and they were going to speak up.   
Defense Cross Examination:
Defense attorney asks mother if she and her husband have contemplated legal action against the school system.  Mother says yes.  Defense attorney says he sees their lawyer in the courtroom. 
#5 had nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.  Mother said #5 did not want to go to school.  #5 went on field trips and mother would accompany her.  Mr. Vigna was on field trips.  Mother says Mr. Vigna came up to her on field trip to say he was proud of #5.
#5 did not complain about Mr. Vigna, #6 did complain. Mother did not report to social worker until September of 2016. 

State calls witness Monica Reaves

Social worker with Montgomery County Child Protective Services
Assessment interviewer, forensic interviewer.
She investigates child abuse and neglect allegations. She interviewed Witness #5 and #6 and their mother, Witness #7. Spoke to mother to understand why they were meeting with her office and to get developmental information about the children.   
Training teaches the RTEC Protocol to learn the techniques for interviewing children. Treehouse is not the same agency, they are a child advocacy center in partnership with Montgomery County. 
Interviewed #5 first.  She interviewed #5 with a detective in the room.  (Interview was videotaped.)

State plays VIDEO of interview of Witness #5:

Witness talks about being in Mr. Vigna's class. Mr. Vigna had a helper in the classroom for half of the day.  The helper was a high school student. 
Mr. Vigna was inappropriate. He would call her to the back table.  She would feel uncomfortable when he would talk about driving by her house and looking to see if they were home.  She described how Mr. Vigna would touch her.  Jurors were given a transcript of the video.

State plays VIDEO of interview of Witness #6:

Witness talks about being in Mr. Vigna's class. Witness talked about what would happen in Mr. Vigna's class. Jurors were given a transcript of the video. 

State recalls witness Monica Reaves
Social worker with Montgomery County Child Protective Services
Assessment interviewer, forensic interviewer.

Detective also asked questions during the interview.  That was normal for interviews.  

Defense cross examination of Monica Reaves:

She uses the RTEC protocol uses a narrative technique.  Knows Sara Kulow-Malave does interviews.  Kulow-Malave does not usually have third parties in the room. Witness allows detective in the room and allows detective to ask questions from time to time.   
Asks questions for clarification, asks "what next" questions. Clarifies statements if there is a specific thing where she does not understand what is happening.   
Defense attorney asks witness what she considers to be leading?  Witness gives examples of leading questions to victim.  She assesses to see if victim is safe, is she emotionally safe? 
Defense attorney takes questions from transcript and asks witness if her questions were leading.  Witness asked victim if question from detective was leading.  Was witness concerned that detective's questions were leading? Witness says she would not know how to criticize the detectives questions. 
Witness says children wait several years and even into adulthood to come forward.  It is not abnormal for a child to wait to come forward. That does not impact our obtaining of information. 
Defense asks if truthfulness is discussed with victim as part of interview?  Not necessary for interview.  Does not place victims under oath.  That is not something a social worker does.  

Re-direct by State of Monica Reaves:
Why don't you put a child under oath for an interview?  Witness states that her role is as a social worker and her goal is to obtain information regarding the child.  She is also assessing for safety and to make sure that their emotional well being is being protected.  
As a forensic interviewer she is just obtaining information.  

Trial recessed for lunch.


  1. Squandering taxpayers' money.

  2. Yes, leaving someone like this in MCPS classrooms for decades is squandering taxpayer money and victimizing and traumatizing multiple children. Our tax dollars should be paying for a free public education in a safe environment for all children. Why won't the Maryland legislature keep criminals out of classrooms?

    1. "Why won't the Maryland legislature keep criminals out of classrooms?"
      It is self-evident.


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