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Louisiana pastor who taped children’s mouths says students bullied teacher

A Louisiana pastor and a religious school principal who has been charged multiple times for taping the mouths of five talkative 13-year-old students defended his actions, claiming the seventh-graders had teased their teacher into tears.

John Raymond, 60, was arrested last Thursday and charged with three counts of cruelty to minors after the shocking incident at the Lakeside Christian Academy in Slidell on March 18.

The former Survivor contestant took to the school’s website Monday to blame the young boys for his actions.

The pastor said the students “showed complete disdain” by constantly interrupting their seventh-grade class with nonstop chatter, but none of the five students suffered physically, he said.

He added that he had no choice but to take action after the teacher walked into his office in tears and threatened to resign over the students’ behavior.

The students were then told to go to a hallway, where Raymond gave them two choices: have tape on their mouths so they can shut up, or be expelled from school, the statements said.

“The students all chose masking tape and I peeled off piece by piece and placed it gently over their mouths to make sure I didn’t touch their noses or interfere with their breathing,” Raymond said. “There is never tape wrapped around a student’s head.”

Pastor John Raymond, 60, founder of the Lakeside Christian Academy in Slidell, Louisiana, said he put masking tape on the mouths of five troublesome students after learning they had bullied their seventh-grade teacher.  Pictured: Raymond's mugshot after turning himself in over the weekend

Pastor John Raymond, 60, founder of the Lakeside Christian Academy in Slidell, Louisiana, said he put masking tape on the mouths of five troublesome students after learning they had bullied their seventh-grade teacher. Pictured: Raymond’s mugshot after turning himself in over the weekend

Raymond, the school principal seen here during his appearance on the fifth season of Survivor in 2002, is facing three lawsuits from five of the teen's parents

Raymond, the school principal seen here during his appearance on the fifth season of Survivor in 2002, is facing three lawsuits from five of the teen’s parents

However, the police disputed Raymond’s version.

“Because the tape was on the students’ heads, it had to be removed with scissors,” Slidell police said. “During the meeting, the students claimed they had difficulty breathing and that the removal was painful.”

The students all said they had no breathing problems, according to the pastor. Finally, the director of the academy informed Raymond that she was not “very comfortable” with the measures he was taking.

The school has yet to discipline Raymond.

Parents of three of the five male students punished by the pastor have filed a lawsuit against the Raymond and the school.

“The other two students went to school as usual,” Raymond said. “Their parents are fully behind the discipline that took place. In fact, another of these parents has already applied for work at our school and is now employed.’

About two weeks after the incident, the police received a complaint from the state department of family services and had a warrant for Raymond’s arrest, which led to the pastor turning himself in to the local police.

Defending the discipline he handed out, Raymond said the tape barely sat on the boys’ mouths for more than 10 minutes before he removed everything.

“We have a zero-tolerance bullying policy at Lakeside,” Raymond said. ‘This means that students are not allowed to bully each other or the teachers. We are serious about protecting both our students and our teachers,” he said.

“We love all our students at Lakeside and strive for a safe and effective learning environment. Character building in teenage boys can be difficult.”

The five students returned to class for just under an hour before another school staff member “felt uncomfortable” with the clergyman’s form of punishment and removed the tape.

Police in the city of Louisiana have received a complaint from the state's family services department about possible abuse at the Lakeside Christian School after the incident (pictured)

Police in the city of Louisiana have received a complaint from the state’s family services department about possible abuse at the Lakeside Christian School after the incident (pictured)

Raymond was a contestant on the fifth season of Survivor, set in Thailand in 2002. He was the first contestant to be voted off the island during the season

Raymond was a contestant on the fifth season of Survivor, set in Thailand in 2002. He was the first contestant to be voted off the island during the season

Raymond also ran as a Republican to a position as state representative in Louisiana, as the pastor is a proud supporter of former President Donald Trump

Raymond also ran as a Republican to a position as state representative in Louisiana, as the pastor is a proud supporter of former President Donald Trump

Raymond was a contestant on the fifth season of Survivor, set in Thailand, in 2002. He was the first person to be voted off the island.

He also ran for a Louisiana state representative position in 2018, proudly declaring himself a supporter of former President Donald Trump.

He also credits himself as the founder of the New Horizon Calvary Chapel and general manager of The Bridge Radio 88.7 FM on his LinkedIn page

Raymond’s profession was listed as ‘pastor’ when he entered Survivor.

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