JOHNSTON, RI (WPRI) – Five police cars responded to an incident at Johnston High School involving a program of skits that was identified as inappropriate and obscene by police and a number of eyewitnesses, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
The Mr. Panther contest was held March 18 and included, at least, nine students who performed several sketches including one featuring a female student at a gynecology appointment.
Another segment that appeared on YouTube recorded several performers saying they were eating “pot brownies.” Later in the video, they’re seen driving a vehicle as they hit a pedestrian, whose body is put in the trunk before the group drives away from the scene.
A one paragraph narrative in a police incident report put together by school resource officer Jeffrey Cicchitelli states that several students were disciplined “due to use of obscene content during the skits.”
According to the report, the crowd reacted when some of the performers were not allowed to continue.
“A large portion of the student body became upset and attempted to shut the event down with a protest to allow said students to continue to participate in the event,” Cicchitelli wrote in the report. “Numerous students then rushed the stage and began chanting loudly.”
Eyewitnesses told Target 12 they chanted “free Russo,” an apparent reference to teacher Gregg Russo, who’s on administrative leave from the high school, facing forgery and counterfeiting charges. Russo was arraigned on three counts of the crime in December.
He was the faculty adviser for the Mr. Panther contests in the past.
As far as whether the content from this year’s event was approved, Johnston’s School Superintendent Bernie Dilullo said the questionable content did not get the current adviser’s okay.
“Some of the students didn’t follow their approved scripts during the event,” Dilullo said in an email. “Those students were reprimanded by the school principal.”
Police later confirmed for Target 12 that five police cars were dispatched to the school which is right across the street from the police station.
Officer Cicchitelli stated the students became upset again when Principal Zachary Farrell told them the event would be shut down.
“This appeared to upset the student body and multiple Johnston Police patrol units responded to keep the peace while the crowd dispersed without further incident,” Cicchitelli wrote in his report.
There are no indications from the incident report or from police that any of the students at the event were cited.