Halloween safety tips
Avoid trick-or-treating alone.
Fasten reflective tape to costumes
bags and footwear.
Hold a flashlight to help you see
and others see you.
Always walk and don’t run from house to house.
Look both ways before crossing
Walk on sidewalks whenever possible.
Wear well-fitting costumes to avoid trips and falls.
Only eat factory-wrapped treats.
Enter homes with a trusted adult.
Examine all treats for tampering.
Only visit well-lit houses.
Never accept rides from strangers.
With less than three weeks left before the start of his jury trial, Cole Charboneau, the former teacher accused of child molestation, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree statutory sodomy, a class C felony, on Wednesday afternoon.
Charboneau waived his sentencing hearing and was ordered to serve seven years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Charboneau taught fourth grade at Eugene Field Elementary School and was placed on paid administrative leave in November of 2017 when accusations were brought to the St. Joseph School District.
The alleged incidents occurred in August 2015 and February 2017 in Charboneau’s home, with court documents contending that the man exposed himself to, showered with and engaged in sexual contact with at least two male victims under the ages of 12 and 15.
“His conduct was within his power to use school resources,” the father of one victim told Judge Dan Kellogg. “He was a teacher at the school district. I beg you to make an example of him.”
“Cole maliciously manipulated his way into our lives with promises to help my son as a mentor,” a mother’s victim impact statement said.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Laura Donaldson later told the court Charboneau had picked out a child he thought was having trouble in school before the child ever entered his classroom.
Another victim’s parents told the court their child now even has difficulty with counseling because Charboneau abused his trust.
“He now understands bad things can happen at any time to anyone in any place.”
Donaldson also told the court the former teacher had touched his victims on school property.
Charboneau originally was charged with one count of first-degree statutory sodomy in December of 2017, but those charges were upgraded to two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, two counts of first-degree child molestation, one count of attempted child molestation and one count of sexual misconduct after a second alleged victim was identified.
Those charges were dismissed by prosecutors in February of 2019 after a plea deal could not be agreed on. But only a few days later, Charboneau, who had been out of custody on $50,000 hybrid bond, turned himself back in as new charges were filed: one count of first-degree statutory sodomy, one count of sexual misconduct, one count of first-degree attempted child molestation, one count of first-degree child molestation and one count of third-degree child molestation.
Charboneau was released on bond the next day, this time on his own recognizance. A change of venue was approved for the man in June of 2019, with a Clay County jury set to rule after a planned five-day trial.
After hearing from the victims’ families and lawyers on both sides, Kellogg sentenced Charboneau to the maximum seven years, saying the crime was horrible.
“We hear about shootings at school, but what you’ve done is equally as horrible,” Kellogg said.
As the criminal case against Charboneau comes to an end, two civil cases against the former teacher, the St. Joseph School District and some of its former and current administrators remain pending and are not expected to be heard until 2020.
A shelf in Dr. Matt Ramage’s office holds a memento from time spent studying in India, a keepsake noting a miracle performed. Our Lady of Vailankanni commonly gets referred to as “the Lourdes of the East.”
Ramage would travel the country for 17 days, a trek of constant discovery, and he arrived in one church on the Feast Day of Corpus Christi. There, the priest cited in his homily the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century friar and philosopher of which the scholar has made an academic specialty.
The service reinforced for Ramage the universality of his faith and the common thread that binds so many facets of worship in so many different cultures.
“Here you have an Italian theologian that this Indian priest is lecturing on,” he said, remembering the trip. “Every walk of life has saints, which is really beautiful.”
Friday marks All Saints’ Day, a solemn observance in the aftermath of the more mirthful Halloween that precedes it. Saints, in the context of faith, form a bond between heaven and Earth, not only those widely known but the millions unknown.
In the secular and civic sense, saintliness can be seen in a more common effect. One saint, the patron of Joseph Robidoux, came to mind when a plat got submitted for his townsite in 1843.
In addition to St. Joseph, Missouri has 13 other cities named for saints, from St. Ann to St. Thomas.
Ramage, an associate professor of theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, sees the saints as models whose lives, flaws and all, can serve as inspiration.
“It reminds us, as an example, of what we are called to. We are called to be what they are now,” he said. “One of the beautiful things with that is they were imperfect people, too.”
Imperfect hardly covers it. Quick to anger, quick to express remorse, St. Jerome could not have been an easy soul to be around. St. Augustine, a man of earthly appetites, found salvation within his struggle against personal demons.
“It gives us hope that if we have those problems, that Christ’s grace is enough to get us to heaven and be one with him, also,” Ramage said.
Growing up in Mattoon, Illinois, Ramage has focused on religious studies throughout his academic life, from his undergraduate days at the University of Illinois to his advanced degrees at Catholic universities in Ohio and Florida.
His studies have taken him to Italy and Israel, to Poland and Greece. He has a competence in eight languages.
Throughout his travels, the theologian has found a link that recognizes no international boundaries.
“You have saints in every culture, and ordinarily, they’re normal people,” he said. “So you have these great people who were decapitated for the faith, but for most of us it’s the ordinary details of daily life through which we attain holiness.”
The faithful also pray for the intercession of saints, and personal trials often provide a connection. During some health setbacks in his own life, Ramage learned to turn to saints.
“They have had this immense suffering, but what the church tells us through them is that your happiness and holiness come largely from how you deal with suffering,” he said. “The hope on the other side of that suffering is resurrection.”
On a trip to Rome, in catacombs dating to the second century after Christ’s death, Ramage saw evidence of devotions paid to the saints. It continues to have an impact.
“We’ve prayed to the saints,” he said. “They’ve been put forward as our example of faith.”
The St. Joseph School District held its final community meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the future of the city’s high schools.
Superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl and members of the Board of Education were on hand to talk with community members seeking more information or looking to voice their own opinions on one of five different concepts.
The school district, in conjunction with architecture firm DLR, has held numerous focus-group and community sessions to receive feedback on which plans the community would support for its high school facilities. Lower-projected demographics and aging buildings have pushed these efforts along, and Van Zyl said that, following Wednesday’s final community session, DLR will take all of the information and present it to the board, which may make a decision on which option to pursue by the end of the year.
“It seems like more people would be leaning toward the two (high-school model), and from an administrative side of things, that’s kind of what we’ve talked about. You know, it’s a little bit smaller than one large high school. The one-large-high-school concept and the renovating-the-three-high-schools concept are the most polarizing options that are out there,” Van Zyl said. “You get some people who really feel strongly about them and others who really feel negatively about both of those. Those are the kind of three things that we’ve noticed so far.”
The other two concepts that don’t appear to be receiving as much attention involve having the district build a new high school while renovating Central and having the district close the three high schools and build a ninth-grade center as well as a new 10th- through 12th-grade high school.
The final two community sessions drew a crowd of around 50 people across both days. But Van Zyl said that even though various plans already have been highlighted by the community, opinions still matter, and those who couldn’t make it to any of the sessions can still voice their opinions online at www. sjsdfacilities.org/concepts.
“There really isn’t a set plan, and that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing: Giving people the opportunity to come out, gather some information, share their thoughts and ideas, and then DLR will put that information together,” Van Zyl said.