A St. Louis teacher was arrested last November, charged with molesting a 7-year-old student three years earlier. Last week, while in jail awaiting trial, Taylor and his partner were charged with trying to hire a hitman to kill his former student and his family.
When Deonte Taylor, 36, was a teacher’s assistant at Lusher Elementary in 2015, he allegedly removed a 7-year-old male student from class and took him to another room where he engaged the boy in oral sex, according to KSDK. Although the boy, who has not been named, and his family reported the alleged incident to police at the time, Taylor was not charged until years later.
In November 2018, police arrested Taylor after a DNA test revealed that his sample matched the DNA found on his alleged victim at the time of the alleged incident. Taylor faces three charges of first-degree statutory sodomy.
Between 2015 and 2018, Taylor earned his teaching certificate and became a fifth-grade teacher at Walnut Grove Elementary school in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Since charges had never been filed against him, he was able to slip through the vetting process.
“Mr. Taylor went through the same process that all of our teaching candidates go through. Everyone goes through a criminal background check, sexual abuse registry background check and there was nothing that showed up on that,” Ferguson-Florissant School District spokesperson Kevin Hampton told KSDK.
Taylor was in jail awaiting trial in February when he allegedly attempted to arrange for someone to kill the now 10-year-old victim and his family in an apparent bid to silence them. Taylor then convinced his boyfriend, Michael Johnson, 66, to pay the man to carry out the killings, which he did, according to the charging document. But the intended hitman became a police confidant soon after, exposing the plan.
In addition to the charges related to the 2015 incident, Taylor also faces two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of attempting to tamper with a victim in a felony prosecution. Johnson faces the same four charges.
Taylor and Johnson appeared in a St. Louis court on Wednesday, where they both pleaded not guilty to the charges. Both men are currently being held without bond.
Cindy Malott, director of advocacy services at Crisis Aid International in St. Louis, launched a GoFundMe page to help Taylor’s alleged victim and his family cover the expenses they have accumulated over the past three years. “I am seeking to raise funds for the victim, his mother, and his family who have struggled financially and emotionally since the original incident in 2015.” the page’s description read.
Over the past nine days, 47 people have donated $1,369 toward helping the boy and his family. The fundraiser’s goal is $15,000.