A Missouri teaching assistant accused of raping a then 7-year-old student allegedly plotted with another man to kill the child and his mother so the boy wouldn’t testify, PEOPLE confirms.
Deonte Taylor, 36, and Michael Johnson, 66, were each charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and two counts of tampering or attempting to tamper with a victim, a St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
Taylor has entered a not guilty plea.
The alleged crimes took place between Feb. 7 and Feb. 26, according to a criminal complaint obtained by PEOPLE. During that time, Taylor and Johnson allegedly worked together to have someone murder the boy and his mother.
In Nov. 2018, Taylor was charged with three counts of first-degree statutory sodomy with a child, according to court records.
The documents allege Taylor asked someone identified only as “C.I.” to murder the boy and asked Johnson to pay C.I., which Johnson did.
In 2015, Taylor was a teaching assistant at Lusher Elementary School in the Hazelwood School District, the St. Louis Dispatch, KSDK and KMOV4 report. Authorities allege Taylor took the then 7-year-old victim from his classroom and brought him to another classroom to sexually assault him.
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Even though the child immediately reported the crime to authorities, police did not arrest Taylor until 2018, after the boy reported the initial incident again, according to KSDK.
Child’s Allegation Was Initially Declared ‘Unsubstantiated’
At the time of his arrest, Taylor was teaching at another school, the Walnut Grove Elementary School in the Ferguson-Florissant District, KSDK reports. The school said in a statement that because Taylor was never arrested or charged following the 2015 incident, he passed a mandatory background check.
The Hazelwood School District said in a statement to the station that Taylor was immediately put on leave following the original report and eventually fired.
“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,” the statement said.
The Hazelwood and Ferguson-Florissant Districts could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Both men are behind bars without bail. It was unclear whether Taylor or Johnson have retained attorneys who can comment on their behalf.
It was not immediately clear if either suspect has entered pleas to any of the charges against them.
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