Alex Constantine - December 10, 2023
In a May 2023 interview with USA Today Network, Raymond said he is "completely innocent" of the charges and has been on voluntary leave of absence from the school since his arrests.
Raymond, who is also an elected member of the Louisiana Republican Party's state central committee, hasn't returned a call and text from USA Today Network for this story. The case is pending in state court.
Raymond's opponent in the race for the House District 104 seat, fellow Republican Jay Galle' of Mandeville, said he was shocked by the endorsement.
"As a lifelong Republican it's an embarrassment," said Galle' while acknowledging Raymond's right to the presumption of innocence.
"(The party) puts itself out there as a protector of children," said Galle', a former marine and businessman who now manages his family's real estate portfolio. "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."
Raymond is accused of holding a 4-year-old boy upside down by his ankles and "whipping his buttocks" and taping three 13-year-old boys' mouths shut with packing tape for talking too much in class.
He is also accused of covering the 4-year-old's mouth and nose with his hand to stop the child's "tantrum" in a separate incident. In a news release, police said witnesses reported Raymond's actions prevented the child from breathing "to the point of him going limp." The witness, a staff member, said the child was "out of it and lethargic" and "unable to stand."
The children whose mouths were taped said they had trouble breathing and suffered pain when the tape was removed.
In the May interview, Raymond said the accusations of his actions against the 4-year-old "are preposterous." Raymond acknowledged that he taped the three 13-year-olds mouths shut after giving them a choice of that punishment or calling their parents, "but tape isn't a crime."
"I'm completely innocent of these charges and confident I'll be fully exonerated in a fair judicial process," he said. "I love children, and that's why I started the school. I never hurt a child and look forward to putting these false charges behind me."
Raymond said the charges stem from "disgruntled ex-employees with an axe to grind."
Raymond also owns and operates The Bridge 88.7-FM Christian radio station.
He is a familiar figure in the Capitol who testified in multiple hearings last spring supporting bills like requiring schools to post "In God We Trust" in classrooms, officially allowing historical Bible courses to be taught in public schools and in favor of LGBTQ restrictions. Among his written campaign promises: "Reject the woke trans-agenda.
Raymond in May said he is confident the charges against him won't impact his campaign.
"I trust the people of St. Tammany to recognize the 23 years I've served the community," he said.
Raymond is vice-chair of credentials committee of the Louisiana Republican Party State Central Committee and a member of the St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committee.
Incumbent House District 104 Rep. Paul Hollis was term limited and couldn't run again, leaving the seat open.
Raymond had previously run unsuccessfully for the District 90 seat held by Republican Rep. Mary DuBuisson.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn