Louisiana pastor, 'Survivor' contestant, GOP official charged with cruelty to children
A Louisiana pastor and headmaster of a Christian school who is also a member of the state's Republican Party governing board and a former "Survivor" contestant has been charged with three counts of child cruelty for allegedly taping students' mouths shut for talking too much.
The Rev. John Raymond, 60, was booked into the Slidell City Jail Thursday after he turned himself into police, as first reported by WWL-TV.
Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Louis Gurvich told USA Today Network late Thursday he had just learned of Raymond's arrest.
Will it face another veto?:Louisiana transgender sports debate returns to Legislature
"I simply don't know enough about the situation to comment at this time," Gurvich said.
Raymond is headmaster of the non-denominational Lakeside Christian School in Slidell.
"Our students are encouraged to walk daily with Christ as they grow in maturity and stature surrounded by a dedicated, nurturing faculty," Lakeside's website describes the school.
But WWL reported three students and their parents said the children were brought by Raymond to his office, where the children's mouths were closed with packing tape that wrapped around their heads.
WWL's report said the children were sent back to class with the tape wrapped around their heads and mouths for 45 minutes "until another school administrator began feeling uncomfortable about the situation and used scissors to remove the tape."
The children complained that they had trouble breathing and that the removal of the tape hurt them, according to the report.
Raymond was a "Survivor" contestant in 2002; he was the voted off the island in Thailand.
A story published about his exit from "Survivor" in 2002 described him as "bossy, dominating and (who) irritated his tribemates."
He has been active in state Republican politics as a member of the Louisiana Republican Party State Central Committee as credentials committee chair who determines if there is a quorum during meetings.
Raymond also ran for the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2018, but was defeated by fellow Republican Mary DuBuisson of Slidell.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.