CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two Charlotte families are devastated following the arrest of a substitute teacher, accused of inappropriately touching two 6-year-old girls.
John Rader, 34, faces eight felony charges, including indecent liberties with a child and indecent liberties with a student. He's accused of forcibly fondling two young girls at Merry Oaks Elementary School, one of them on multiple occasions.
Rader is no longer employed there, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
School officials notified parents Thursday about the investigation.
The investigation may now reach eight CMS schools where Rader taught.
Channel 9 learned Monday he had also taught at Berewick, Cotswold, Dilworth and Selwyn elementary schools. He also taught at First Ward Creative Arts Academy, Hawthorne Academy of Health Services and Sedgefiled Middle School.
Ashley Hargrove learned Rader also taught at her children’s school, Berewick Elementary School.
“That could've been my kid, it's definitely scary," she said.
Channel 9 spoke to the mother of one of the two accusers. She is not being identified to protect her daughter.
Her 6-year-old daughter has been at Merry Oaks for pre-K, kindergarten and now first grade. Her mother told Channel 9 that she loved it there until November, when she started saying she didn't want to go to school anymore.
She wouldn't tell her parents why.
"It was even to the point where she didn't even want to get out of the car. They already had the door open and she would grab onto the seat. She didn't want to go," the mother said.
It was the other young girl who came forward with the allegations against Rader that led Charlotte-Mecklenburg police to begin an investigation on Jan. 11.
One girl's mother said her daughter once told her that Rader was "weird and different" but she didn't think anything of it at the time.
Police are still investigating, concerned there could be other possible victims, and urging them to come forward.
Channel 9 reached out to CMS but officials there would not comment on the arrest.
The girl's mother said justice is coming.
"He'll pay. He has to pay for what he did to the kids, because they are innocent. They don't know anything about that stuff," she said.
Rader appeared in court for the first time late Friday afternoon. He bonded out of jail, but must wear an ankle monitor.
Prosecutors also asked for an order of protection, which requires Rader to stay away from the victims, and away from any child younger than 11 without supervision.
He's expected in court again for a bond hearing Feb. 8, and a probable cause hearing is set for Feb. 15.
Channel 9 checked into the requirements candidates must meet to be a substitute teacher at CMS and found that they must pass a background check, go through fingerprinting and drug testing and have at least a bachelor's degree.
Police want to know if there are more victims and they are asking families to come forward.
Rader is out of jail on bond. He has to wear an electronic monitor and cannot have contact with children.
Below is the letter sent to students and parents:
Hello Merry Oaks families, this is Principal Slagle with an important message about an active investigation which may lead to news media coverage.
We are working closely with law enforcement regarding an allegation of inappropriate contact with one of our students by a former substitute teacher, who is no longer working at our school. I want to assure you that I am committed to the safety of all of our students and will assist law enforcement in any way needed during this investigation. We will provide as much needed support to our students and families during this process.
Because this is an active investigation I am limited in what I can share, but do not hesitate to call me if you have additional questions.
Thank you for your support of Merry Oaks Elementary.
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