Lawrence grade school janitor charged with 3 counts of rape; incidents allegedly occurred between 2008 and 2010

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

A Lawrence Police Department patrol vehicle is pictured June 28, 2022.

Updated at 5:21 p.m. Friday, March 1

A grade school janitor with the Lawrence school district was charged on Thursday with three sex crimes involving children that allegedly happened around 15 years ago.

The man, Lance Lee Yoder, 53, was taken into custody just before 2 p.m. Thursday near Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, according to the Douglas County Jail booking log. He was later charged with three counts of rape, two of which involve a girl who was between the ages of 10 and 13 at the time of the incidents and another girl who was between 14 and 16, according to charging documents. The incidents are alleged to have occurred between January of 2008 and December of 2010.

Yoder appeared Friday in court and was granted a $100,000 own-recognizance bond, meaning he was not required to pay any money to be released from jail but may be charged that amount if he fails to appear in court. He is next scheduled to appear in court on March 27 for a status conference.

Yoder was not arrested at the middle school but was taken into custody during a traffic stop in the 1500 block of New Hampshire Street, said Sgt. Drew Fennelly with the Lawrence Police Department. Police could not confirm Yoder’s employment status.

The sex-crime report was made to police on Jan. 7, according to the Lawrence police incident report log. The address of where the report was made was redacted.

Yoder has been employed by the district only since September 2022, and was assigned to Schwegler Elementary School, said school district spokesperson Julie Boyle. Boyle said the district was unaware of the arrest until Friday and planned to terminate his employment. She said he was a night custodian and was last at work on Wednesday.

“Lawrence police informed the district of this individual’s arrest,” Boyle said in an email. “While there is no information linking the cause of the arrest to our schools, upon their encouragement and out of an abundance of caution, we are informing Schwegler staff and families and asking that they report any concerns to police.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office declined to release Yoder’s booking photo.


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