Thursday, January 31, 2019

Exclusive: The Voices of the Victims of Sexual Abuse by MCPS Teachers, Coaches and Staff. The John Vigna Sentencing. "And the children that came in here and testified and disclosed to child services and the police had to shoulder past adults, 40 people in the courtroom, outside the courtroom, saying things, comments, pushing through to come in and tell everyone about what Mr. Vigna did to them." @mcps @mocoboe

This is the second in the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD series of posts that give the victims of sexual abuse by MCPS teachers, coaches and staff a voice.  
These courageous children and adults have spoken up in public courtrooms about the crimes committed against them while they were students in Montgomery County Public Schools.  Often the courtrooms are empty and these statements are not covered by the press.  No one from the Montgomery County Board of Education ever attends these sentencing hearings.  To date, no past or present Board of Education member has ever formally spoken up in support of these victims.  
Below is the statement from the Montgomery County State's Attorney presened at the sentencing of MCPS teacher John Vigna (Cloverly Elementary School).  Note that in this case many MCPS administrators knew about the suspected sexual abuse of students by this teacher, but none of them reported these documented reports to the police or Child Protective Services. It took a child to speak up and put an end to the decades of sexual abuse by this MCPS teacher. 

August 4, 2017 
2:54 PM
Montgomery County Circuit Court
Montgomery County State's Attorney Sentencing Remarks 

...our comments will be brief. Because nothing could explain the devastation that this defendant has caused quite like the parents of these children and what they have endured at the hands of this defendant.

We've heard a lot about Mr. Vigna from the sentencing memorandum that the defense has submitted with numerous statements from the members of this community.  It is clear that what he did has divided this community.  He has supporters here and they were present here for the trial. And they have had the opportunity to observe the evidence and understand some things.

But it's no surprise to the State or to the Court or to many of us who are well informed about how sexual abuse occurs that Mr. Vigna is very popular. That maybe 97% of the people he has interacted with would think that he was awesome, the best person they could possibly think of,  the most trustworthy, the most endearing, all of those things.

Because those of us who know about sexual abuse know that is the person most likely to be the abuser.  If he looks like the bogeyman you are not going to leave your child with him every single day.  He has to be trustworthy.   So that is what Mr. Vigna really has mastered is the manipulation, is the grooming, and it's not just of these victims, it's not just of the children.  It was a grooming of the parents, of the PTA, of staff and of this community over years and years and years.  The Mr. Vigna, the most popular teacher, everybody wanted to be in his class is not surprisingbecause that is how he was able to access his victims and that's what he was using.  He uses his trust to exploit these children. And that's what he did to 4 victims in the course of 15 years.

And the harm that he has done to them can not be undone.  It can not be made right and that is why justice requires sentencing him to the top of the guidelines.  And I think the families have explained that better than we ever could.

What we hope in going forward and having him incarerated to the maximum possible penalty allowed by the guidelines is that will remove him from the community. We will protect this community and other victims from what Mr. Vigna does and what Mr. Vigna did.

And the children that came in here and testified and disclosed to child services and the police had to shoulder past adults, 40 people in the courtroom, outside the courtroom, saying things, comments, pushing through to come in and tell everyone about what Mr. Vigna did to them.  And they weren't just brave in those moments.  But they were brave because they were willing to do all that they had to do to make sure this didn't happen to someone else.  And that was the sole motivator. 

And despite all of that this community has not come together and shown any support for these victims or for their families.  But we hope that in imposing the sentence today the community will be able to go forward and upon some reflection of their conduct here in the courtroom, with what they have observed, with what they have participated in, that there will be some understanding of being able to support these families and these children and the victims and this community.

Because we can't move forward and truly protect this community, not just by removing this defendant, but by understanding how crimes like this happen and how children are being victimized.
Because it is concerning that in looking back and seeing all of the behaviors that may have been present that the community still doesn't recognize the power of this manipulation.
Hopefully one day that will come forward.

The statistics from the Department of Justice are that 1 in 4 girls under the age of 14 will be sexually abused.  And that 90% of them are abused by someone who is a family member or someone who is very acquainted with them.  And that's something that I assumed most people were aware of.  And it is concerning to us that the treatment of these victims and the communities response to these crimes has been what it has been. 

But we hope that this will render some closure to the victims families, to this community and that we'll move more informed into the future with more support for the victims.

So we are asking the court to impose the executed sentence at the top of the guidelines of 52 1/2 years of executed incarceration.  Allowing the remainder to be suspended if and when he is released.  The maximun period of supervised probation.  That he be required to register for life as a sex offender.  And that if, and when, he is surredered for parole and probation that he attend an ___ certified therapist for sex offense therapy with polygraphs and a ________ as well.

We would like to just in closing cite to some of the statements that the children submitted to the Court.  Which I know the Court has read.

[Victim #1]
I am embarassed and I am ashamed.  I am in my room and I don't want to talk to anyone.  Most of my school friends I don't talk to anymore.  I am embarassed.
She doesn't trust people at school and she can't focus on school.
Her dreams aren't good and she can't get comfortable.
How does she feel about the person who did this to you?
I don't understand why.  And he acts like he did nothing wrong.  But he did.  Why does this happen?   He needs to know that what he did was wrong.  He needs to go away and never do it again. 
[Victim #2]
I am also having thoughts about dying.  Like I just don't want to be here anymore.
Now I am feeling more sad because of what Mr. Vigna did to me. Somedays I wake up feeling sad and most days I feel sad during the day.
I cry alot. I am alone in my room because I want to be alone.  And I feel sad and mad.  And I get mad at my family because I am sad.
What makes me feel this way is because of what Mr. Vigna did and going to court.
I had to start going to therapy.

Nothing can be more powerful that those statements from these children, your honor.  Knowing that these small children are going through all of this, and have lost their innocence and their trust in adults and their confidence in themselves, their desire to go to school, and some of them are questioning even their desire just to survive at this point is a testament to how this man systematically, psychologically, broke these children down in order to sexually abuse them in the manner in which he did.

Given that it was 4 victims, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders over the course of 15 years we would ask for the court to impose that maximum sentence under the guidelines.


  1. "And despite all of that this community has not come together and shown any support for these victims or for their families."
    NIMBY Mentality of Suburbia...

    1. Mentality of Montgomery County Public Schools. You realize dozens of administrators knew about this sexual abuse and did nothing. The mentality was firmly established by MCPS' failure to handle this situation when first reported to them.

  2. Now, if they could also train them how to protect themselves from the predators among them.


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