Former Montgomery Co. teacher doing time for sexual abuse granted a new trial

A former Montgomery County, Maryland, elementary school teacher convicted in 2017 of sexually abusing several current and former students has had the convictions against him vacated.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge David Lease tossed out the convictions after new attorneys for John Vigna argued that he had “ineffective assistance of counsel” during his first trial.

Lease made the decision earlier this month and ordered that Vigna should have a new trial in the case. Vigna was released pending his new trial on a $100,000 bond on July 12.

“We are disappointed by the ruling of the court, but respect the judge’s decision,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy in a statement.

Vigna, who served for 20 years as both a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Cloverly Elementary School, was accused by both former and current female students he taught in 2017. A jury found Vigna guilty of the numerous charges against him. He was sentenced to 48 years in prison.

At his trial Vigna, maintained his innocence and many supporters showed up at the courthouse, some wearing #VignaStrong T-shirts.

During Vigna’s sentencing, one father called Vigna “a monster (who) deserves to be in a cage.”

McCarthy said Vigna’s conviction was upheld during the appeals process and that his prosecutors argued against the latest challenge and Vigna’s release.

WTOP reached out to Vigna’s new attorney and has not received a response.

Vigna is not on house arrest ahead of his next trial, but his release was approved with certain conditions. He cannot have unsupervised contact with minors, is required to wear a GPS ankle bracelet and must stay away from Cloverly Elementary School, accusers, their families and other witnesses in the case.

Vigna will be back in court on Aug. 1.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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