by: Ashley K. Speed
John Lenwell, 46, is charged with forcible sodomy, indecent liberties with a minor and two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery. He’s accused of sexually assaulting two males — one a former student — between 2007 and 2012.
No reason was given in court for the continuance. The case was set for a March 10 hearing, where a new trial date will be scheduled.
On Aug. 6, 2012, two Newport News men, then 19 and 21, notified police that they had been abused in prior years. Lenwell was charged later that month, and his trial was scheduled for Tuesday morning in Newport News Circuit Court.
According to court documents, the 19-year-old said he was abused at Lenwell’s home between April 2012 and August 2012, and that Lenwell offered to pay him for sexual acts.
The 21-year-old was 17 at the time of the alleged abuse, between 2007 and 2008. Police said Lenwell was the orchestra director at Denbigh High School at the time, and that the 17-year-old was his student.
Lenwell most recently worked at Dozier and Passage middle schools as an orchestra director. He has been suspended without pay since he was charged, according to Michelle Price, a spokeswoman for Newport News Public Schools.
Robert W. Lawrence, Lenwell’s lawyer, said his client strongly denies the charges and has rejected two offers to plead guilty to two misdemeanors with no jail time. Lenwell has been out on bond.