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Pastor charged with cruelty to juveniles for taping students' mouths shut

Raymond will be arraigned on December 2 and will enter pleas of not guilty.

NEW ORLEANS — The Slidell pastor who allegedly taped students' mouths shut has been charged with four counts of cruelty to juveniles.

Pastor John Raymond, 60, is accused of bringing three students, who were said to be talking too much in class, to his office on March 18.

His attorney Joe Long told our partners at The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate that Raymond will be arraigned on December 2 and will enter pleas of not guilty. He will also not take any plea agreement.

Raymond is also a past contestant on the television "reality" show Survivor. 

Slidell Police said that interviews of students, as well as parents and faculty at Lakeside Christian, led them to conclude that Raymond became angry and, at some point, used packing tape to tape the students' mouths shut by wrapping it around their heads.

Police said that Raymond then sent the children back to class with their mouths shut, and that lasted for about 45 minutes until another school administrator began feeling uncomfortable about the situation and used scissors to remove the tape.

Police said the students complained they had trouble breathing while their mouths were taped and that having the tape removed was painful.

In a statement posted on the school's website after the incident, Raymond said that he gave several students the option to put clear Scotch tape over their mouths or that he was going to call their parents and they would be suspended. 

"The students all chose tape and I pulled off one piece at a time and carefully placed it over their mouths making sure that it did not touch their nose or interfere with their breathing," Raymond wrote. "At no time was the tape wrapped around any students head."

Raymond said after applying the tape, he asked each student if they were in pain and could breathe normally. He said that a principal told him that she was uncomfortable with the action, and the tape was removed "in under ten minutes."

"We have a zero-tolerance bully policy at Lakeside," Raymond wrote. "This means students cannot bully each other or bully the teachers. We are serious about protecting both our students and our teachers."

"These students were given a choice between suspension and temporary tape. They were never in any physical pain. Their breathing was never impaired. The tape was never wrapped around their heads. And it was off in under 10 minutes. No student was ever treated with cruelty or harmed in any way," he added.


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