Music teacher pleads guilty to child abuse charges

Lawrence Joynes. (Police mugshot)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - In a Montgomery County courtroom Monday morning, former music teacher Lawrence Joynes pleaded guilty in two cases of sexually abusing students.

Prosecutors say 14 of those students were girls as young as 5 years old. Joynes videotaped them in his classroom at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring. He would put his fingers and candy canes in their mouths in sexually suggestive ways.

Janis Sartucci, a leader in the advocacy group Parents Coalition of Montgomery County has been following the case and was in the courtroom.

"I absolutely had tears in my eyes hearing these horrific charges ... against these 5-,6- and 7-year-old children," she said.

Prosecutors say multiple parents had complained about Joynes, but the school just restricted him. He was told to leave his classroom door open and that he could not be alone with students.

Joynes was caught when his videos surfaced when a South Carolina man was arrested for child porn videos. Sartucci accused the school system of harboring the teacher.

"Thank you to Homeland Security ... if it wasn't for Homeland Security ... this gentleman would still be in the classroom today ... The school system had no intention of removing him," she said.

A spokesman for Montgomery County Public Schools issued a statement praising the work of police and prosecutors in the case and said: "MCPS has made, and will continue to make, significant improvements to our practices, policies and protocols related to preventing, recognizing, and reporting allegations of child abuse and neglect."

In the second case, Joynes pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a middle school student back in the '90s. He was arrested in 2013. The 56-year-old is scheduled to be sentenced in August. He could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

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