In what has become a widely publicized case of sexual abuse, a former middle school instructional assistant was recently arrested and charged in Charles County, Maryland for allegedly sexually assaulting students and making video recordings of the abuse. Officials report that 30-year-old Carlos DeAngelo Bell was arrested on June 30th for allegedly recording acts of abuse of students that took place in classrooms at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School in Waldorf, his home, and other locations between February and March 2016. Investigators also discovered that Bell is HIV positive, and that he may have exposed children to the virus.
In addition to testing two known victims for the virus, officials believe there may be more cases of student abuse committed by Bell, who had been employed since the fall of 2014 by Benjamin Stoddert Middle School until his removal in December 2016. He also worked as a track coach at LaPlata High School and formerly as an instructional aide at J.P. Ryon Elementary School. While the two children tested received negative results, officials have noted that it can take up to six months for the virus to be detected. Given the serious nature of the case, other victims, who range from sixth- to eighth-grade, will also be tested, and officials are encouraging parents and children to come forward regarding any inappropriate contact with Bell.
The investigation was launched in December of 2016 when the parent of a student reported an inappropriate text from Bell. Following the seizure of digital devices from Bell, investigators soon discovered evidence of child pornography involving the abuse. Bell is being held without bail at the Charles County Detention Center, and officials have reported that additional charges will be filed.
In a statement released by the Charles County Public Schools superintendent, the school system admitted that it fell short in protecting students, and has vowed to conduct its own investigation into determining how the abuse was able to take place and what measures should be taken to assist victims and students from being similarly victimized in the future.
As of July 31st, Charles County prosecutors have charged Carlo DeAngelo Bell with over 100 felony counts of abuse and sex offenses, including assault, solicitation, child rape, infecting at least three victims with HIV, and more. While the investigation is still ongoing, Police have identified at least 24 victims, all of whom were in sixth to eighth grade at the time of the alleged abuses.
The Rights of Sexual Abuse Victims
The case involving Bell is one of many similar cases involving sexual abuse committed by individuals who hold positions of authority, including instructional aides, students, and coaches. Often, assault and abuse results from failures of governing authorities, such as school system, to take reasonable measures in protecting its students. Although the investigation in this case is still pending, officials will be looking closely into possible warning signs that could and should have been identified, including negligent hiring and retention, reports of inappropriate conduct, and more.
Our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has extensive experience representing victims of sexual assault and abuse, including children and families of children injured in school environments. Additionally, our legal team has litigated sexual assault and abuse matters, including on behalf of women assaulted in apartment complexes, women who were secretly videotaped by a prominent DC religious leader as they participated in religious events, and seven women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. We are readily available to help victims of this case, or any other instance of abuse and assault, with learning more about their legal rights and what we can do to assist them in obtaining full and complete justice and compensation.
For more information about our services, or to discuss a potential case, contact us for a free and confidential consultation.