Former coach, instructional assistant charged with assault, producing child porn
Also believed to be HIV positive; seven middle school victims indentified
A former middle school instructional assistant whom police say is HIV positive has been arrested for allegedly assaulting middle school students and producing child pornography, some of it in the classroom.
“In an organization that is all about children, these allegations are horrifying,” Charles County Public Schools Superintendent Kimberly Hill said during a press conference Monday afternoon. “To our parents and our community who put their faith and trust in us to safeguard their children, I apologize on behalf of Charles County Public Schools.”
Carlos Deangelo Bell, 30, of Waldorf was arrested Friday at his home and charged with three counts in connection with producing child pornography and two counts of second-degree assault of a minor.
Bell is currently being held without bond at the Charles County Detention Center in La Plata, said Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry (D).
Wednesday afternoon, CCSO released additional details about Bell’s background. In the fall of 2008, Bell worked as a facility attendant with the Charles County Department of Community Services, and in the fall of 2015, Bell worked for AlphaBest, a Charles County government contractor, that provided before and after care at J.P. Ryon and William B. Wade elementary schools.
In addition, the sheriff’s office said Bell volunteered as an assistant coach for the Comets, a youth track club whose athletes range from 15 to 18 years old, and may have served as coach or assistant coach for a variety of sports throughout the region.
Additional charges are forthcoming, and the investigation is ongoing, Berry said.
“The Charles County Sheriff’s Office is working with the state’s attorney’s office and Charles County Public Schools to dig deeper into Bell’s background to determine if there were any other victims in our community,” Berry said.
The incidents are alleged to have occurred in February and March 2016.
Police say Bell, an instructional assistant, sexually assaulted seven identified male students, and investigators believe there are more victims who have not yet been identified. They are asking anyone with information to come forward.
Bell was, until recently, an instructional assistant at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School in Waldorf. He also served as a former track coach at Maurice J. McDonough and La Plata high schools, Hill said.
Bell began his career in Charles County Public Schools at J.P. Ryon Middle School in 2014 before transferring to Stoddert in March 2015, Hill said.
Bell passed an extensive background check required of all employees, Hill said. Tony Covington, state’s attorney for Charles County, said that it did not appear Bell had a criminal record.
“We are not aware of him having any criminal history at all,” Covington said.
The investigation opened in November 2016 when a La Plata High School parent reported sexually inappropriate text messages sent to her child.
“Detectives were able to track the text messages back to Mr. Bell,” Berry said. “A search of Bell’s work computer did not reveal any illegal activity and nothing suspicious was noted.”
Hill said Bell was barred from coaching and all school properties in December while the investigation continued.
“We removed Mr. Bell from his duties as an employee and we directed him to have no contact with students or student athletes,” Hill said.
Covington said that, at that time, there was no evidence of the crimes with which he has now been charged.
“In December, the only thing that was on the table, if you will, was an inappropriate text message, and it does not appear that the young man that was targeted at fell victim to sexual assault himself,” Covington said.
On June 27, Berry said the Maryland State Police Crime Lab reported retrieving images and videos from Bell’s electronic devices of Bell sexually assaulting children in a Stoddert classroom and at his home, at which point authorities sought an indictment.
“It is devastating to us that something like this could happen in a classroom, in a school building where adults are charged with taking care of children,” Hill said. “I can assure you, there will be very persistent follow-up for us to determine exactly what happened and how it was allowed to happen.”
Hill said that as an instructional assistant, Bell worked with both special education and general education students.
Hill said Bell’s alleged actions are horrifying, but should not reflect on the other 3,500 teachers and staff members of the school system, and said the school system would increase efforts to improve safety in schools.
“Student safety is job one, and clearly we have work to do to ensure that this will never happen again,” Hill said.
Hill said support and counseling will be provided for children who have been victimized.
Following Bell’s arrest, he allegedly confessed to having contracted the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, and Berry said evidence was recovered to confirm that information. Covington said that at this time, two of Bell’s alleged victims have been tested for HIV, but currently no one has tested positive.
Dianna Abney, health officer for the Charles County Department of Health, said test results can take from two weeks up to six months.
Berry said there are additional victims who have not been identified, and urged parents to speak with children who may have had contact with Bell. A special hotline, 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800225-5324), has been set up for this case.
Carlos Deangelo Bell, 30, of Waldorf.
Charles County Health Officer Dianna Abney, State’s Attorney Tony Covington, Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry and Charles County Public School Superintendent Kimberly Hill held a press conference in La Plata Monday afternoon to announce the arrest of Carlos Deangelo Bell on a number of child assault and child pornography charges.