Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Teacher John Gisler Charged with Sex Crimes to Minor

A Tulsa middle school teacher and former volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters has been charged with sex crimes involving a minor.

Forty-one-year-old John Charles Gisler was charged Monday in Tulsa County District Court with one count each of lewd molestation, forcible sodomy and second-degree rape. The arrest report indicates he was taken into custody near 27th and South Harvard on Tuesday.

The victim was 14 years of age at the time the alleged crimes began.

"The allegation is that the suspect began molesting a child at the age of 14," says Tulsa Police Spokesperson Jason Willingham. "He was actually a mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and during one of the mentorship programs he became acquainted with this young man and began molesting him and continued those crimes for three years."

Big Brothers Big Sisters released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"Big Brothers Big Sisters is aware of the investigation and arrest involving a former volunteer with our organization. We are alarmed and deeply saddened by reports of any child being harmed. Because there is an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate and irresponsible for us to discuss or speculate about any specifics.

However, please know that we make child safety our priority. We have zero tolerance for abuse. Our volunteers and staff undergo thorough screening and background checks and we provide ongoing professional support for our children and families."

Big Brothers Big Sisters says it has no knowledge that Gisler had any contact with any of the organization's children since his relationship with them ended. They say they will work with police to inform any parents whose children may have been in contact with Gisler and they're making professional support available to any concerned families, mentors staff or others with BBBS.

Tulsa Public Schools officials say the victim was not one of Gisler's students, but they say they are conducting an internal investigation at this time.

"Even though we've been assured the allegations do not involve Whitney students, we are conducting our own investigation to ensure the safety and security of our students," says Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard. "We appreciate the Tulsa Police Department's diligence in protecting the children of Tulsa."

The district's human resources compliance office is investigating to determine if anything may have happened on school property or with Tulsa students.

Gisler has been employed at at Whitney Middle School since August 2005 and was in the school's Science department.

Court records show Gisler is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for arraignment.
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