Teacher faces child-sex charges
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
By Dave Murray
The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- A Grand Rapids music teacher on leave from two elementary schools has been arrested on eight counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving eight children.

Ronald Richard Taylor Jr., 38, of Grand Rapids, was arrested Monday and is to be arraigned Thursday in Grand Rapids District Court, court records show. He is free on bond.

He has been on paid leave from his work at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy and Buchanan Elementary School since October.

The arrest warrant said the alleged sexual contact was with eight boys, ages 5 to 10, and occurred during June through October at King school and at an address near Buchanan Elementary.

Taylor denies the allegations, but "does not intend to litigate this matter through the press," his lawyer, Fil Iorio, said today.

"He appreciates the support he has received from family, friends and various school staff. ... He's hopeful he can receive a fair, judicial process, and he certainly intends to avail himself of his due-process and constitutional rights. But he denies it, firmly and wholly."

School officials said accusations have involved Taylor and at least two students, but it's unknown whether the charges stem from alleged contact with those students.

Superintendent Bernard Taylor said the district is waiting to hear from police about the details of the allegations.

"At this point, this is still a police matter and there is very little that we can do," said Bernard Taylor, who is not related to the accused teacher. "A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. We need to make sure that the employee's rights are protected, as well as seeing what we can do to meet the needs of the children."

Ronald Taylor was hired by the district in January 2002 but may have worked there previously. He was certified as a teacher in 1995. He was ordered to have no contact with anyone under 18 until arraignment.

A woman who identified herself as the mother of two of the alleged victims said she was frustrated by the pace of the investigation. The family approached police and the district in mid-October.

"This teacher needs to formally apologize to his victims for what he has done," said the woman, who declined to be identified. "I want him sent to prison, but I also want him to apologize to the people he has hurt."

The mother declined to discuss the nature of the accusations, only to say there were alleged incidents both inside and outside school.

She said the families do not believe the district has been supportive.

"The school has not called once to check on the children," she said. "I got a call from the director of security on Oct. 20 and nothing since. I haven't heard from the superintendent, and that surprises me."

Larry Johnson, the district's director of safety and security, said school officials have been waiting for police to complete their investigation before contacting the parents.

"These are difficult incidents to investigate, especially when you're dealing with young minors, because they often don't want to come forward," he said. "We didn't want to interfere with the investigation. We're letting the police handle the facts and we are to provide support for the families."

Send e-mail to the author: dmurray@grpress.com