An alleged molestation of a juvenile reported last year near an Irish Channel public school in fact happened in a room at ReNEW SciTech Academy, and the accused faculty member stopped working there the next day.
A school spokesman said it’s school policy to notify parents of children involved in such matters, but it’s unclear whether any other parents were made aware of the incident.
The case against 54-year-old Ronald Johnson was in Criminal District Court today, and another hearing is set for next month.
On January 13, 2015, Johnson went to the boys restroom and told the then-12-year-old boy to come to his room after the boy was finished, according to a police application for an arrest warrant. The boy obliged, and that’s where Johnson said it was his birthday and asked the boy for a hug, grabbed his genitals and licked his neck, according to court documents.
Johnson was arrested nearly two months later, on March 4, and charged with one count each of sexual battery and indecent behavior. A few days later, the story initially was reported by nola.com.
ReNEW spokesman Scott Satchfield confirmed Ronald Johnson worked as an interventionist at the school from July 14, 2014 until Jan. 14, 2015, the day after the incident reportedly happened. According to state records Johnson was set to earn $30,000 that year from SciTech.
Satchfield would not disclose whether Johnson resigned or was fired, or whether his departure was related to the incident.
“I can’t answer these questions because we don’t discuss personnel decisions,” he said.
“However, in instances where allegations are raised or found to be true, we follow our policies as mandatory reporters to communicate directly with the parent(s) of the student(s) involved, contact police, contact the Department of Children and Family Services, and cooperate with all law enforcement agencies,” Satchfield said.
Some court documents mistakenly identify the location as 830 Jackson Ave. The only building on the even side of the 800 block of Jackson is ReNEW SciTech Academy. Its address is 820 Jackson, which is listed on the initial police report.
The court filings also don’t explain the boy’s connection to Johnson, only stating “Johnson had access and control over the juvenile victim and secluded the victim to himself.”
Today in court, Johnson’s public defender said she is still seeking surveillance footage and other evidence that the defense team asked for in October. An April 11 filing specifies the request for surveillance footage from SciTech Academy.
Johnson could not be reached for comment and was not in court today. A message seeking request for comment was left with his public defender.
Johnson’s pre-trial conference is set for May 6 and a hearing on motions set for May 12.