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Former St. Louis teacher convicted of molesting student, still facing hitman charges

Deonte Taylor sexually abused a 7-year-old student. Police say he conspired to kill the victim and members of the victim's family.

ST. LOUIS — A jury convicted a man of sexual abuse of a child Thursday.

Deonte Taylor, 39, was a teacher's aid at Lusher Elementary School when he abused a 7-year-old student in his office in November 2015. Taylor knowingly exposed the boy to the risk of infection with HIV.

Sentencing was scheduled for June 2.

Witnesses included the victim, his mother, medical staff, detectives and a DNA analyst who found Taylor's DNA on the boy's body and clothing.

A witness for the defense tried to support an argument that the victim lied about the assault.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said his office is asking the court to sentence Taylor to the maximum number of years in prison.

Taylor was convicted of three counts of statutory sodomy against a child younger than 12 years; each count can get a sentence of 10-30 years or life— those must be served consecutively. 

He was also convicted of knowingly exposing a child to risk of infection with HIV— that's another 5-15 years.

Taylor is still charged with hiring a hitman to kill the abuse victim, his mother and his grandmother.

While Taylor was in jail, he approached John White. White said Taylor and a man named Michael Johnson offered him $20,000 to commit the three killings.

When asked why White agreed to accept the job, the father of 10 said he had no intention of going through with it.

“I could see how serious he was. And if he didn’t get me to do it, he was going to get somebody else. And maybe that next person would’ve done it. So I think I did the right thing,” White to 5 On Your Side in 2021.

White met with Johnson in a north city parking lot and says he received a few hundred dollars as a down payment for the murder.

“He was just saying 'I appreciate you doing this because Deonte needs to be home and I need my baby home with me.' He handed me $500 and said I had to get back to church because 'I’m the choir director,'” said White.

The I-Team confirmed Johnson was the Choir Director of a St. Louis area church at the time.

Lusher Elementary School is in the Hazelwood School District.

The Florissant Police Department investigated the sexual assault. The investigation took several years, a mistake the department admitted.

Taylor was teaching at Walnut Grove Elementary in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in 2018 when he was arrested in the case.

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