School instructor arrestedA 54-year-old Jamestown Public Schools instructor was arrested Tuesday after a female juvenile alleged she was sexually assaulted by him, according to the Jamestown Police Department.
By: By Ben Rodgers and Katie Ryan-Anderson, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
A 54-year-old Jamestown Public Schools instructor was arrested Tuesday after a female juvenile alleged she was sexually assaulted by him, according to the Jamestown Police Department.
The incident was alleged to have happened between Monday and Tuesday. The student also alleged she received sexually explicit text messages and phone calls. The student reported the allegations Tuesday morning.
The instructor is in custody pending charges from the Stutsman County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The Jamestown Police Department would not release the name of the man arrested. The booking sheet, a public document from the Stutsman County Correctional Center, showed that Richard Laqua, 54, Jamestown, was arrested at 12:34 p.m. Tuesday.
Laqua is a construction technology instructor at the James Valley Career and Technology Center.
Jamestown Public Schools Superintendent Bob Toso said he learned of the allegations just before noon Tuesday.
He wouldn’t release the name of the instructor or what subject he taught. He did say, however, that he’s a “longtime employee” with the district.
On The Jamestown Sun’s Facebook page, one reader questioned who the district was protecting by not releasing the name of the instructor.
The district is following the advice of police, Toso said.
“It’s not a matter of protecting anybody because the individual is in jail. It’s just a matter of following proper police procedure,” he said.
The teacher will be removed from the classroom but will receive pay until the investigation is complete, Toso said.
Toso said Tuesday was a “sad day” and that in his 30 years as an administrator, he’s never dealt with allegations like this.
“Things like this just don’t happen in North Dakota,” he said.
Toso said the alleged victim was not a student of the teacher and he is unsure how the instructor obtained her phone number. He would not say which school the student attended or at which school the instructor taught.
The district does not have a policy regarding electronic communication between staff and students, Toso said. A committee did meet this month regarding implementing one, he said.
JPS cautions its staff regarding the use of social media and electronic communications.
Jamestown Public School employees are required to obtain a background check as part of their employment with the district, Toso said, but the accused employee was hired before the requirement was put in place.
Although he doesn’t anticipate it, Toso said he’s questioning whether other students will come forward with additional allegations.
The district does not have formal plans to visit with or consult the 700 students at Jamestown High School, Toso said. Teachers will allow students an opportunity to discuss concerns in their classrooms today, he said.
Counselors are aware of the situation, Toso said, and are working with the alleged victim. She is still enrolled with the district, he said.
The incident remains under investigation.
Stutsman County Assistant State’s Attorney Troy LeFevre said a judge will review the case Wednesday morning.
“We’ll be reviewing the information and (will) determine if there’s enough information for probable cause or not, and from there determine if there’s a charge or not,” LeFevre said.
If a judge signs a complaint, which could happen Wednesday morning, the name and charges would become public.
Also Tuesday, the Jamestown Police Department stopped a vehicle around 8:15 a.m. that was headed for the high school. Toso said the alleged victim’s parent was driving the vehicle.
Sgt. John Johnson wouldn’t comment regarding the incident except to say police stopped the vehicle “before some idiot did something stupid.”
Toso said he’s unsure what the driver’s intentions were and that students were not in danger.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at kryan-anderson@ jamestownsun.com Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com