A particularly shocking case of an HIV positive teacher accused of sexually preying on students highlights the need for school districts to implement changes that could prevent future cases.
Fox News reported that the Charles County (Maryland) State Attorney’s Office increased the number of Carlos Deangelo Bell’s victims to 42 students after originally reporting 24 in a July indictment.
Bell, a former school aide and track coach at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School in Waldorf, Maryland, is accused of sexually abusing boys, aged 11 to 17 years old, between 2015 and June 2017.
His arrest came after a six-month investigation that began with a suspicious text message intercepted by a parent. Shortly after, school district officials removed Bell and law enforcement launched a probe. Charles County Schools Superintendent Kimberly Hill apologized to parents.
This case, and many others, highlights the need for school district officials across the nation to heed the recommendations of a U.S. Government Accountability Office report.
According to the GAO, about one in 10 children in the United States is a victim of sexual assault by school personnel. The agency said K-12 public schools lack a systemic approach to preventing abuse.
A key solution is training faculty and staff on how to recognize the signs of a sexual predator grooming a student for abuse. In many cases, according to the agency, school officials quietly remove employees suspected of sexual abuse—allowing them to move on to another school district or another state. Consequently, beyond police reports there’s no systemic way to identifying employees who are serial sex abusers.
Prosecutors charged Bell with 22 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, 19 counts of second-degree sex offense, 19 counts of second-degree sex offenses, 7 counts of third-degree sex offense, 97 counts of child pornography and other offenses. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.