The Louisiana Republican Party has endorsed an anti-LGBTQ+ state house candidate who has been charged with four counts of criminal cruelty to children.
As the Shreveport Times reports, Republican John Raymond is running to represent the state’s reliably red House District 104. He previously ran two other unsuccessful bids for a Louisiana house seat in 2018 and 2019, touting his support for former President Donald Trump and his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Republicans appear likely to try to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’s vetoes this month.
A lead minister at New Horizon Church in Slidell, Louisiana, Raymond owns Christian radio station The Bridge 88.7 FM and was a contestant on Survivor in 2002. He’s also the founder and headmaster of Lakeside Christian Academy in Slidell. He was arrested last year after he allegedly punished three students by taping their mouths shut. According to NOLA.com, Raymond wrapped packing tape around the three 13-year-olds’ heads for talking excessively in class. The students were sent back to class where another administrator who “felt uncomfortable with the situation” removed the tape. The students reportedly had trouble breathing and said that removing the tape was painful.
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Raymond turned himself in to police after they obtained a warrant for his arrest, and was charged with three counts of cruelty to juveniles.
In a statement, Raymond accused the students of “bullying” a teacher and said that all three were given the choice to either have their mouths taped shut or have him call their parents and be suspended. He denied that the tape was wrapped around their heads and said that it was removed within 10 minutes after the school’s principal expressed concern.
Raymond was arrested again in May 2022, this time for allegedly holding a 4-year-old boy upside down by the ankles. Raymond was accused of whipping the child’s buttocks, and in a separate incident he was accused of covering the boy’s mouth and nose with his hand to stop a tantrum, according to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser. Witnesses said the boy could not breathe and went limp, remaining “out of it and lethargic.”
Last week, Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Louis Gurvich confirmed to the Shreveport Times that the party’s executive committee had endorsed Raymond.
Jay Gallé, a former marine and businessman who is running against Raymond in the Republican primary, called the state party’s endorsement “an embarrassment.”
“[The party] puts itself out there as a protector of children,” Gallé said. “I can’t express how disappointed I am that the Louisiana Republican Party has chosen to endorse a candidate with not one, not two, not three, but four criminal charges of cruelty to children.”
A member of the Louisiana Republican Party’s state central committee, Raymond has repeatedly testified before the state legislature in favor of restricting access to “sexually explicit” material in public libraries, allowing teachers to misgender trans and nonbinary students, and restricting discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms.
Raymond’s campaign website claims that “there is an epidemic of inappropriate sexual grooming and social engineering that is taking place in public schools.” It promises that “if John Raymond is elected as State Representative for District 104, he will remain vigilant against this wave of transgender confusion seeking to dominate our culture and confuse our children.”