ST LOUIS, MO – It’s like something from a horror movie. A mother finds out her 7-year-old son has been molested by a trusted teacher at his school. That scenario is unbearable in and of itself.
Now throw in the extra terror of finding out that the alleged molester and his boyfriend have attempted to have your son, yourself and your family murdered.
Taylor allegedly took the boy out of music class and brought him into his own office. There, the victim was forced to perform oral sex on the teacher.
The victim reported the alleged attack right away, the boy’s mother notified police and the child was examined for sexual assault. What nobody knew at the time was that Taylor was HIV positive.
Local police then launched an investigation into the allegations. However, the investigation paused when the detective working on the case left the department and charges were not immediately filed.
In the meantime, Taylor obtained his teaching certificate and was hired as a teacher in a different school district. He passed a series of background checks despite the open case in his prior district. Taylor landed a job in the Ferguson-Florissant School District at Walnut Grove Elementary school, as a fifth-grade teacher.
In November of 2018, police were able to match Taylor’s DNA to samples found on his former student victim. They found him employed at Walnut Grove Elementary and arrested him. Taylor awaited trial on several felony charges, including first-degree statutory sodomy and recklessly risking the infection of another person with HIV.
Thankfully his child victim did not contract the disease. Ferguson-Florissant School District alerted families about the accusations at Taylor’s former school following the arrest.
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When questioned about the district’s vetting process, Kevin Hampton, spokesperson for the Ferguson-Florissant School District said:
“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.”
Hampton was also asked if Taylor was still getting a paycheck from the school district, even though he was currently behind bars pending accusations of molesting a student. Hampton answered:
“Everybody receives due process, and he had an opportunity to have due process when those initial charges were filed. When the subsequent charges were filed, it became clear that he was not going to be returning and at that time, he was terminated.”
But just like many horror movies, it didn’t end with the capture of the monster.
Months later, while behind bars awaiting trial, police said Taylor and his 66-year-old boyfriend Michael Johnson, tried to hire a hitman to kill the victim and his family.
Investigators said that in February 2019, Taylor met a fellow inmate and arranged to have him kill the now 10-year-old boy and his mother when that inmate was released. The man instead became a confidential informant for the police.
Meanwhile, Taylor spoke with Johnson, whom he lived with before his arrest, and, allegedly, convinced Johnson to pay for the hit. Court papers say Johnson paid the man.
Deonte Taylor and Michael Johnson were charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of attempting to tamper with a victim in a felony prosecution. Both men pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in a St. Louis court.
To read more details on this case, see the following story written by LET Staff:
‘We made a huge mistake’ – Police forgot to investigate teacher for 3 years after accused of molesting student
The department claims “we made a huge mistake”.
And yet for some reason, the story remained buried.
But now that the elections are over, and the police chief who oversaw the department has been elected Mayor… we’re learning much more about the failures that happened.
Here’s what happened.
Deonte Taylor was a teacher with HIV who was accused of taking a student out of class and molesting him. The then went on to get jobs at several other districts… but police never even questioned him.
Now he’s accused of rape and attempted murder and went unchecked in schools for years.
It all started back in 2015, after Taylor was hired as a teacher’s aide at Lusher elementary school, in the Hazelwood School District of St. Louis.
Police reports say Taylor was accused of taking a 7-year-old boy out of music class and into his office to molest him. The report indicates that immediately after, the child was brought back to class.
At the time, nobody knew that Taylor was HIV positive.
The mother filed a police report and the child was examined for sexual assault.
DNA evidence confirmed the child was assaulted – yet no DNA sample was taken from Taylor, nor was he arrested.
He WAS however fired a few days later by the Hazelwood School District – not over the suspected assault, but rather for “a violation of school board policy”.
The district still won’t say which policy.
“We cannot go into detail but Taylor was terminated on November 15, 2015, due to a violation of board policy that was discovered as a part of the district’s investigation into the parent’s allegations. After the allegation was reported, he never returned to the Hazelwood School District,” Kimberly McKenzie, Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Hazelwood School District told local media outlets.
WSDK, a local news station, said the district didn’t notify any parents about the abuse allegation in 2015. They asked district leaders about what action they took after the allegation was reported.
“That becomes a legal matter and I will agree that some parents, after they hear things, they will have a desire to know more, curiosity. And it is very hard for parents to understand that we have to live by laws and rules,” said Mark Behlmann, President of the board of education for the Hazelwood school district.
Yet Taylor wasn’t even questioned by Florissant police. When the local media outlet questioned why DNA wasn’t taken from the teacher after the student accused him of sexual assault, Police Chief Tim Lowery said it was a mistake.
“For some reason, this case basically sat on somebody’s desk and wasn’t investigated properly,” said Lowery.
Lowery, who is now the mayor, claims the investigator assigned to the case was reassigned to another department shortly after the first police report was filed.
He said that as a result, the case fell by the wayside and wouldn’t see the light of day for several years… allowing an accused sexual predator to run free. Lowery said it’s not his fault.
“Well it wasn’t my office who dropped the ball, it was my investigators who dropped the ball Yes.”
The reporter called him out and asked if he was in charge of those investigators.
“Uh huh. That’s correct. We made a mistake. There’s no doubt we made a mistake and made a huge mistake,” said Lowery.
Lowery confirmed that a DNA report confirming that unknown male DNA was found in the little boy was sent to the Florissant Police Department in August of 2016… and yet almost ten months after the alleged abuse, police didn’t follow up on the new findings.
After Taylor was fired from the Hazelwood district for “a violation of school board policy”, he applied in the Jennings school district to be a student teacher at Fairview Primary School… and got the job.
The Hazelwood school district said they did nothing wrong, claiming they complied with all state and federal reporting requirements.
Yet they didn’t let any potential employers looking for a reference know what Taylor was accused of.
“It was an accusation. That’s as far as it went,” said Behlmann.
The Hazelwood school district claims they didn’t think Taylor was a threat to anyone.
“Although the District reported the allegations to DFS as required, the District received a notification from social services that the report was unsubstantiated. No further information was provided by the police,” McKenzie said in a statement.
And just like that, Taylor ended up back in the classroom.
He worked at Fairview Elementary in the Jennings school district, then got a job at Walnut Grove Elementary in the Ferguson-Florissant school district from 2017 to 2018… going from teacher’s aide to teacher and getting his own 5thgrade class.
During his second year at Walnut Grove Elementary, prosecutors charged Taylor for sexually assaulting his former student in 2015.
But at the time, police claimed there was no new information that lead to the arrest.
“An officer leaving the department played no role in this case. The case is simply investigated by another investigator. The Florissant Police Department investigated this case in 2015 and the case remained open and ongoing. Due to new revelations with this case, investigators were able to make an arrest,” said Steve Michael, an officer with the Florissant Police Department in November of 2018.
But according to WSDK, it was a lie.
They confronted Lowery about his department’s false statements, asking if there new revelations in 2018 that led to the reopening of this case… or if it was just the victim reporting it again.
“Yes,” said Lowery.
Court documents show that three years after the boy first reported the crime, he again reported during an outburst at school.
Police got a warrant for Taylor’s DNA, and they say it matched that taken from the boy in 2015.
I-Team: So if the victim hadn’t spoken about it in 2018, Deonte Taylor an accused sexual predator would still being our school systems with access to other potential victims?
“It’s possible,” said Lowery.
Soon after he was charged with felony sodomy, prosecutors found out that Taylor is HIV positive. Luckily the boy did not contract the disease.
Taylor is currently awaiting trial on several felony charges, including sodomy and recklessly risking the infection of another person with HIV – but that’s not all he’s charged with.
Prosecutors say that as he was awaiting trial, he and his boyfriend Michael Johnson tried to hire a hitman to kill the child and his family.
Taylor now faces both conspiracy to commit murder charges and witness tampering charges.
Johnson faces two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of witness tampering. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The Hazelwood School District provided the following statement:
“As soon as the allegations regarding Deonte Taylor were made in November 2015, the Hazelwood School District turned the matter over to the Missouri State Children’s Division (DFS) and the local police.
As a precaution, the District also immediately placed Taylor on leave pending the outcome of the investigation. While waiting on the findings from the authorities, the District terminated Taylor’s employment for reasons unrelated to this case while he was on leave.
Taylor never returned to the school after the allegations. Although the District reported the allegations to DFS as required, the District received a notification from social services that the report was unsubstantiated. No further information was provided by the police.
Recently, the student victim provided additional information and the matter was once again reported by the District to DFS.”
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