Suspended Chariho teacher facing more sex charges

Chariho teacher Paul LaFrance

WEST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — A teacher at Chariho High School already accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student faced the judge Monday afternoon, hours after he was arrested on additional charges at his West Greenwich home.

Shortly after a Kent County District Court judge ordered Paul LaFrance held on $5,000 bail with surety, the suspended teacher posted the required $500 and walked out of Kent County District Court. He did not enter a plea Monday afternoon when he was arraigned on several charges which include possession of child pornography, one count of third-degree sexual assault and electronic dissemination of indecent material to a minor. These newest charges are in addition to the two counts of third-degree sexual assault and indecent solicitation charges LaFrance was already facing stemming from an Oct. 7 arrest.

After LaFrance’s first arrest, state police said Richmond Police turned over for analysis digital evidence they seized from LaFrance’s home to the state police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. State police said after examining that media, they began an additional investigation into “alleged crimes that occurred at his residence in West Greenwich.”

Investigators said the new charges involve the same juvenile from the previous arrest and, as of Monday, the investigation had not revealed any additional victims.

While arresting LaFrance Monday, state police also executed a search warrant. According to police records, investigators seized computers, external memory, and various bedding items, including a comforter and sheets.

According to a court affidavit, the student told police her relationship with LaFrance began on Kik Messenger and on Skype. The two exchanged user names on the last day of the 2013 school year and their conversation became sexual almost immediately. According to the document, the girl was 15 years old at the time. She also told police the two had two physical sexual encounters.

LaFrance was placed on unpaid leave last month from his job as a business teacher at Chariho High School. At that time, School Superintendent Barry Ricci said he planned to pursue the district’s non-fraternization policy “with vigor” and seek the teacher’s termination.

Another man, John Wedlock, 52, of Wakefield was also accused of having an inappropriate relationship with the same student and charged in October with indecent solicitation of a child. Ricci said Wedlock was a science teacher at Chariho until he abruptly retired in September.

It was during the investigation into Wedlock’s relationship with the student that police learned of LaFrance’s alleged involvement. According to the affidavit, the girl told police her relationship with Wedlock never became physical.

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