Roberts High School Coach John Wayne Christopher Payovich Accused Of Kissing 15-Year-Old Student

September 28, 2018




Syndicated by: Montana News

By: Investigative reporter Donald Cyphers

Roberts Montana man John Wayne Christopher Payovich was arrested and charged with Endangering Welfare Of A Child.

Payovich was released on his own recognizance and ordered to maintain weekly contact with his attorney.

The Oder for Condition of bail was held August 30, 2018.   The Court also ordered Payovich to avoid any inadvertent contact with the alleged female victim.

Judge L Kevin Nichols signed the Order and then, 7 days later signed his own Order recusing himself of the Payovich case and appointed Judge Lee Cornell as a Pro Temp Judge on this case.

According to Deputy Carbon County Attorneys and Court records filed August 16th, 2018.

 On January 10, 2018, Carbon County UnderSheriff  Jeff Schamalz, was dispatched to a sexual assault at the Roberts High School.  

UnderSheriff Schmalz met with the school's superintendent Alex Ator.  Ator stated that he had information from the Robert's High School Altacare therapist Christine Lohof-Crago that a high school coach had sexual contact with a female student.

Alex Ator stated to Law enforcement that he had contacted the Roberts High School Lawyer and a private investigator was then sent to the school to investigate the incident.

The victim was a 15-year-old female student with the initials of A.H. and the suspect was John Wayne Payovich who is a coach at the High School.  

The alleged allegations were that both the female student and the coach were kissing.  As to the amount of kissing incidents, that will be later determined as the investigation is still ongoing.

 UnderSheriff Jeff Schmalz then contacted the parents of the 15-year-old female and met with all three of them on January 12, 2018.

The female girl A.H. was interviewed in a separate room outside of the presence of her parents even though she was a minor.   The female student A.H. stated that she spent time with Coach Payovich and his children and that she considered him to be like a father-figure.  She also stated that on two separate occasions Coach Payovich kissed her on the mouth.  (Lips)

The first encounter happened in his bedroom while they were watching a movie.  She described the date as being December 22, 2017.  They had been out earlier shopping with him and his children.

The second encounter happened on a Saturday, January 6, 2018.  The Coach had been out drinking after a basketball game and kissed her in the bathroom of his house.  Allegedly Payovich told her that he really liked her.  The female student then described the kiss between her and the Roberts High School coach as like a "boyfriend/girlfriend" kiss.

The Investigation also included interviewing other students at the High School in Roberts Montana.


 Other allegations of sexual contact between the 15-year-old student and coach Payovich were discussed but according to Law Enforcement, they were unable to substantiate the more serious allegations that were spoken about by other students but was able to confirm that there were numerous times that the 15-year-old female student and coach Payovich were together outside of the school grounds and property.

The Private investigator that was hired by the Roberts High School was Michelle Smith.    Michelle Smith interviewed and investigated the allegations by the female student.   Michell Smith states that that the 15 -year-old student A.H. and the coach would communicate digitally every morning and every night.  Also that the coach gave to the 15-year-old $100 to go buy Christmas presents for herself and her sister.

During the winter break, the Coach indicated to A.H. that he liked her in an romantic way.  Coach Payovich held her close to his body in the bathroom, grabbing her shoulders while she was crying.

Private investigator Michelle Smith states that Coach Payovich denied kissing and or touching the student in an inappropriate way.

According to Alex Ator, the reason that Michelle Smith was hired to get involved was that the school is a mandated reporter but could not report on something like this since it was only a 1st hearsay report only.  They did not have 1st hand info or knowledge so they hired Michell Smith to get first-hand info which then allowed the school to make a report based on the 1st hand information.

According to Alex Ator, he stated that Michelle Smith works on cases for School District (2) and also for the Felt Martin, Frazier&Weldon, Duncan Associates Law firm in Billings.

There are only a handful of lawyers in Montana who represent schools. Three of them are with Felt, Martin, Frazier & Weldon, P.C. which is a Law Firm located in Billings Montana.

According to the Law Firms Own website, the Law firm claims to be legal experts in  public school law, including:

    Student discipline, including due process concerns
    Employment relations, including teacher discipline and termination
    Personnel complaints & other employment matters
    Unfair labor complaints
    Title IX and all discrimination matters
    Complaints with the Montana Human Rights Bureau
    Board operational & political issues, open meetings, and public  documents
    Policy review & revision
    Special education and Section 504
    Contract development and public procurement
    Training for school administrators and teachers in all areas of school law
    Advising Boards of Trustees in person or by phone
    The public right to know and participate in government operations
    Open meetings and public document requests
    Civil rights
    Constitutional matters
    School finance
    Opening and closing schools
    District annexation, consolidation and territory transfer
    Appeals to county superintendents and the state superintendent
    Labor negotiations & grievances
Law firms web address


This article was published by: Donald Cyphers Investigative reporter License# USPA-ID-US/VI-01/29995

                                                                                                             License# AINS-ID-80896CYP 

                                                                                                             License# USPRESS-ID-80896CYP

                                                                                                             License# IWGP-ID-74810-CYP-18



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