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Investigation Update

Press Conference July 31, 2017

Press Conference July 3, 2017

Due to recent events surrounding the sexual misconduct allegations against a former Charles County Public Schools employee, Carlos Bell, we are working to support students, staff and our families. Bell is a former instructional assistant at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School and arrested June 30 on charges of sexual assault and the production of child pornography. Charles County State's Attorney Tony Covington released a 119-count grand jury indictment July 31, including multiple counts of sexual abuse and other crimes against children.  

In December 2016, a La Plata High School parent contacted the Charles County Sheriff’s Office regarding inappropriate messages sent by Bell to her child. Bell was the head indoor track coach at La Plata at the time. CCPS was notified of the report and the investigation by the Sheriff’s Office.

Bell was first employed by CCPS in September 2014. In addition to Stoddert and La Plata, he also worked briefly at J.P. Ryon Elementary School and as the 2015-16 school year indoor track coach at Maurice J. McDonough High School.

As a parent or staff member, you may have questions regarding how you can support your children and students. Children may have questions that are difficult for you to answer. The information and resources below can assist you in talking about this recent event.

What is child sexual abuse?  (click to view)

  • An adult engaging in sexual activity with a child
  • An adult inappropriately touching and non-touching a child in a sexual nature
  • An adult engaging in sexual activity with a child/adolescent, consensual or nonconsensual, is a crime in all 50 states

Warning signs of possible sexual abuse  (click to view)

  • Nightmares, sleep problems
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Bedwetting for older children
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Engages in adult-like sexual activities with toys, objects or other children
  • Unusual fear of certain people and places

Helpful tips for parents  (click to view)

  • Monitor your child's technology use
  • Teach your child that it is against the rules for adults to act in a sexual way with them
  • Teach your child what parts of the bodies others should not touch
  • Know the people in your child's life
  • Know the warning signs of sexual abuse
  • Secretive use of internet or cell phone
  • Drawings or conversations of a sexual nature

 July 28th Stoddert Question and Answers

Any one sign does not mean a child was sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you should begin asking questions and consider seeking help. We encourage parents to talk with your children about the investigation, and if they report anything inappropriate whatsoever, call 1-800-225-5324. Parents can also call Child Protective Services at 301-392-6731 or call 911 to report possible child abuse.

All Charles County public schools have staff available during the school day to assist with questions or concerns parents may have regarding their child. This includes school counselors, school psychologists, pupil personnel workers and school administrators. Over the summer, concerned parents can contact the Department of Student Services at 301-934-7326.

HIV Testing

According to the police, Carlos Bell has been confirmed as HIV positive. The Charles County Department of Health is offering free confidential HIV testing for any child who may feel they are in need of a screening. Call Shelby McKimmie with the health department HIV testing program at 301-609-6953 to make an appointment. Click here for additional information about HIV testing at the Health Department. 

Charles County Child Advocacy Center provides free therapy for victims of sexual abuse during and post investigation through a federal Victims of Crime Act grant.  Please call 301-609-9887 and ask for Sara Ortiz, Victim Services Coordinator to make an appointment.

Investigation Facts and Timeline  (click to view)

Health Department Resources  (click to view)

Press Releases from Charles County Public Schools  (click to view)

Updates from Superintendent, Kimberly A. Hill, Ed.D.  (click to view)

Press Releases from Charles County Sheriff's Office  (click to view)

Parent letters from Stoddert / La Plata (click to view)..

General hiring process for all Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) employees  (click to view)

All candidates complete an employment application, including references. New hires, including substitutes and temporary employees, are fingerprinted. These fingerprints are submitted to the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) which searches both the Maryland and FBI databases. CCPS receives a report from CJIS typically within 3-5 business days. If there is a reportable incident, the Office of Human Resources determines whether the incident disqualifies someone from employment. Additionally, I-9 forms are completed to verify eligibility to work in the United States. Mandated training is conducted regarding blood borne pathogens, reporting of suspected child neglect/abuse, the CCPS drug and alcohol policy and more. Additionally, CCPS requests a Child Protective Services background clearance request. Child Protective Services notifies CCPS of any child abuse findings involving prospective employees.

What happens if an accusation involving a minor is made against an employee?  (click to view)

When an accusation involving a minor is made against an employee, the school principal contacts the student’s parents to review the accusation and the investigation process. Charles County Public Schools’ general practice is to immediately remove the employee from contact with students. CCPS places the employee on administrative leave with pay or assigns them to a temporary position in the administrative offices until resolution of the charges. Resolution can take months, even more than a year, depending on how long it takes for outside agencies to investigate, file charges or adjudicate in the court. The employee is prohibited from having any contact with CCPS students while on administrative leave. Placing an employee on administrative leave or in a temporary assignment allows CCPS to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation.

Depending on the nature of the charges, the school system notifies — as required by law — the Department of Social Services (DSS) and/or the Charles County Sheriff’s Office. Depending on the nature of the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office sometimes refers the case to the Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office. The school system cooperates fully with the outside agencies, but does not start its own investigation until DSS and law enforcement agencies, if involved, finish their investigations. Cases handled internally can be resolved through investigation by the school system’s internal investigator.

Maryland law requires school systems to keep certificated employees on paid status until all investigations are concluded and the superintendent recommends termination to the Board of Education. Certificated employees are teachers and any others holding necessary state certificates.

While State law does not require that non-certificated employees be kept on paid status while under an investigation, typically, depending on the charges and evidence, CCPS attempts to afford non-certificated employees the same due process as certificated employees. However, non-certificated employees can be terminated by the Superintendent without Board of Education action.

Statement from the Board  (click to view)

New This Week

July 28 Parent Night Questions and Answers

Letter from Marvin L. Jones on parent night

Stoddert Parent Information Night

Benjamin Stoddert Middle School Interim Principal Marvin Jones and Superintendent Kimberly Hill plan to meet with parents at the next Stoddert parent community meeting, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m.

Mental Health/ Counseling Resources

Charles County Department of Health
4545 Crain Hwy, White Plains, MD 20695

Center for Children
6100 Radio Station Rd, La Plata, MD 20646

Tri-County Youth Services Bureau
75 Industrial Park Drive, Waldorf, MD 20602

National Child Abuse Hotline
24 hours a day, seven days a week

Charles County Department of Social Services
200 Kent Avenue, La Plata, MD 20646

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