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Another New London school employee charged with sexual assault

May 23, 2019

Jevon Elmore

New London — Police arrested a second New London school employee on sexual assault charges Thursday: a paraprofessional who is also a track coach.

Jevon Elmore, 25, of 905 Bank St., was arrested on a warrant and charged with second-degree sexual assault. Details of the allegations against him remain sealed by a court order.

The arrest of Elmore, who was hired by the district in September, is part of an expanded and ongoing investigation by New London police stemming from the arrest of former middle school climate specialist Corriche Gaskin.

Gaskin, 35, remains held in prison facing a host of felony charges related to the alleged sexual assault of a middle school student and for allegedly recording and showing off homemade sexually explicit videos on his cellphone during the 2016-17 school year.

Police said a witness identified three people in cellphone videos performing oral sex on Gaskin — two of them adult staff at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School and the third female a student who was in eighth grade at the time.

Gaskin’s arrest and the allegations that he had sexual encounters with colleagues in the middle school have sent shockwaves through the school community, along with some finger pointing.

“I just can’t wait to see the scope of the investigation made public, because I want to be able to make some kind of sense of these terrible incidents,” said Jefferey Hart, vice president of the Board of Education, on Thursday.

Several school employees have become targets of claims of misconduct following public forums held by the district. Parents were urged at those forums to report misconduct by teachers with students to the authorities, school officials and state Department of Children and Families.

School Superintendent Cynthia Ritchie suspended Elmore on May 10, the same day as two of those forums. He was barred from entering school grounds.

“An incident was reported to the Human Resources Office on Friday, May 10, 2019, alleging you have interacted inappropriately with a student(s). The matter was reported to the Department of Children and Families for further inquiry,” states a letter to Elmore from Taryn R. Bonner, the school district’s human resources director.

The district, three days later, suspended Jason Pellum, a 24-year-old long-term substitute teacher and assistant basketball coach hired within a week of Elmore. Both are New London High School graduates and, according to a published report in The Day, opened a gym together in the city with two other New London High School grads in 2018.

On May 10, someone had reported an allegation of inappropriate interaction between Pellum and a student to DCF. There are no pending criminal charges against Pellum.

Among the other employees placed on paid administrative leave is band director and music teacher Jonathan Gworek. He was placed on leave on May 2 for a “concern” reported to the district and DCF regarding his conduct with a student.

Employees on leave in what the district considers to be a direct connection to Gaskin are middle school STEM Director Lawrence Washington and Alison Burdick, director of the International Education magnet pathway at the middle school. Teachers Melissa Rodriguez and Laquana Sheppard also were placed on leave.

Burdick, placed on leave for “possible dissemination of confidential information,” since has filed suit against school district employees and the school board claiming, in part, defamation.

A district representative was not immediately available to comment following Thursday’s arrest.

Superintendent Ritchie, in her May 8 letter to the school community, said the district remains in regular communication with DCF and police and was assisting with investigations.

“As soon as we received any information from DCF or the New London Police, the District has acted immediately to remove any adults, including Mr. Gaskin, alleged to be involved in the ongoing investigation from District properties,” Ritchie wrote.

Gaskin since has been fired.

Elmore remains held in lieu of a $150,000 bond and is scheduled for arraignment Friday in New London Superior Court. It was not immediately clear if Elmore has an attorney.

g.smith@theday.com

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