SILVER SPRING, Md. - Police have arrested a Montgomery County elementary school teacher accused of sexual offenses against two 11-year-old female students. It is the second time this month a Montgomery County school teacher has been charged with a sexual abuse crime.
John Vigna, a third grade teacher at Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Spring, was taken into custody Monday morning and charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sexual offense.
Court documents filed in the case said the 49-year-old inappropriately touched two of his students while other students were in the classroom.
The court affidavit said the first victim who came forward told police the inappropriate touching began almost two years ago.
"The allegations started back in, at least that we know of, started back in August 2014 up through this school year,” said Montgomery County Police Capt. Jim Humphries. “This investigation – there is no real crime scene, there is no real evidence, so it’s a lot of digging using subpoenas, interviewing witnesses and piecing together all of the facts, and then we reviewed it with the Montgomery County State's Attorney’s Office with all the facts so that we could coordinate what the charges were going to be and coordinate the prosecution.”
Investigators said on several occasions, Vigna is accused of holding an 11-year-old girl on his lap and held her hips close to his while moving her back and forth. When the girl resisted, Vigna allegedly kept her from getting away.
During a later incident in February of this year, Vigna is accused of touching the same student and another 11-year-old female student on the buttocks during class. He also allegedly hugged the same two students and made inappropriate contact with them. Police were notified after one of the girls told her parents what had allegedly happened.
Police said it was also found that the victim had been inappropriately touched on the buttocks several times in the classroom while other students were participating in activities that prevented them from noticing the inappropriate contact. The victim sometimes hugged the teacher goodbye and he would use that opportunity to make further inappropriate contact.
A letter that was sent home to parents said police asked the school system to keep the details of the teacher’s suspension on hold while they conducted an investigation. It goes on to say, "I know that you agree that the behavior alleged in the charging document is both disturbing and disappointing.”
Parents we spoke with who have children in the school thought Vigna was a terrific teacher and are dumbfounded by the allegations.
"I have talked to him several times, I have had parent-teacher meetings with him and he seemed like a nice enough guy,” said parent Joe Duffy. “The kids really all seemed to like him and he always had these interesting sayings that the kids liked to repeat and that other teachers seemed to like as well.”
Michelle Anderson and her friend, Angela, both have students at Cloverly and were equally astonished at the allegations.
"I have a high school student now who had Mr. Vigna years ago,” said Anderson. “I thought he was a great teacher. I never would have seen this coming in a million years. Nice guy.”
"I never felt like he was inappropriate or flirty or anything,” said Angela.
Vigna was being held on a $150,000 bond. According to a court website, we have learned that the teacher has posted bond and been released.
FOX 5 attempted to contact Vigna, but have not heard back from him.
Montgomery County police said they are looking to see if there are any other victims. Police are asking parents of any student who was in class with Vigna to speak to them about their interactions with him. Anyone with information regarding the investigation is asked to call detectives at 240-773-5400.