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Former NY Church Choir Director Faces Third Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit

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A former New York church choir director and teacher has been charged in a third child sexual abuse case dating back to the 1970s.

The lawsuit filed in New York’s State Supreme Court Aug. 9 alleges that A. Ronald Johnson had “unpermitted sexual contact” with a then-13-year-old student from 1979 to 1981, when Johnson was head of the choir at Lowville United Methodist Church and “had authority over both adults and children,” including the plaintiff. 

He was also a teacher at Lowville High School, where the plaintiff was a student.

The suit says Johnson’s work “placed him in positions where he had access to” children, and that the plaintiff came to know him as an authority figure, agent of the church, and mentor.

Both the church and school are named as defendants in the case along with Johnson. The suit says both Lowville UMC and Lowville High School “knew or should have known” that Johnson was a danger to children before he allegedly molested the plaintiff. 

It says the defendants negligently hired Johnson with knowledge of a “past history of inappropriate conduct” and should have known of his “propensity for child sexual abuse.”

The abuse resulted in physical, emotional, and psychological damage for the plaintiff, the lawsuit says.

Two other suits filed last year also alleged Johnson sexually abused students during that time period, TV station WWNY reported. Johnson denied those allegations at the time.

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.