Up to 24 vic­tims in­di­cated, po­lice seek­ing IDs of 11 chil­dren

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Charles County State’s At­tor­ney Tony Cov­ing­ton (D) an­nounced more than 100 ad­di­tional charges for a for­mer Charles County Pub­lic Schools in­struc­tional as­sis­tant and track coach, and rais­ing the num­ber of sus­pected child vic­tims from 10 to 24.

On June 30, Car­los Dean­gelo Bell, 30, of Wal­dorf was ar­rested and charged with se­cond-de­gree as­sault of a mi­nor and pro­duc­tion of child pornog­ra­phy, af­ter po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors al­legedly found images of Bell sex­u­ally as­sault­ing stu­dents at Ben­jamin Stod­dert Mid­dle School, where he had worked since 2015.

Mon­day af­ter­noon, Cov­ing­ton held a press con­fer­ence in front of the Charles County Court­house to an­nounce the un­seal­ing of a grand jury in­dict­ment against Bell, in­clud­ing 119 ad­di­tional counts, and cov­ers a time frame from May 2015 un­til June 2017.

Cov­ing­ton said the charges in­clude 12 counts of child sex abuse, 48 counts of se­cond-de­gree sex of­fense, two counts of third-de­gree sex of­fense, two counts of se­cond-de­gree as­sault, 44 counts of film­ing child pornog­ra­phy, two counts of so­lic­i­ta­tion of a mi­nor, five counts of dis­play­ing ob­scene mat­ter to a mi­nor, three counts of trans­mit­ting or at­tempt­ing to trans­mit the HIV virus to an­other, in ad­di­tion to other charges.

Cov­ing­ton also said the num­ber of sus­pected vic­tims is now be­lieved to be 24, 11 of whom have yet to be iden­ti­fied.

Cov­ing­ton said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is still on­go­ing, and urged any mem­ber of the pub­lic with in­for­ma­tion to call 1-800-CALLFBI (1-800-225-5324).

“This in­dict­ment does not sig­nal the end of this in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It is con­tin­u­ing as we speak,” Cov­ing­ton said.

Cov­ing­ton said Bell, like any other ac­cused in­di­vid­ual, is en­ti­tled to the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence un­til found guilty by a court or jury.

“An in­dict­ment is sim­ply al­le­ga­tions. Ev­ery­body, no mat­ter the grav­ity of the charges, from mur­der down to theft, is en­ti­tled to be pre­sumed in­no­cent un­til proven guilty,” Cov­ing­ton said.

Cov­ing­ton de­clined to an­swer any fur­ther ques­tions and left im­me­di­ately af­ter the an­nounce­ment.

Fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment, CCPS sent out a press re­lease stat­ing that Stod­dert Prin­ci­pal Ken­neth Schroek has been re­as­signed to the Of­fice of Sup­port­ing Ser­vices. The trans­fer is due to the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said Kim­berly Hill, CCPS su­per­in­ten­dent.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Bell be­gan in Novem­ber 2016 af­ter the par­ent of a stu­dent at La Plata High School, where Bell worked as an in­door track coach, noted in­ap­pro­pri­ate text mes­sages on the stu­dent’s phone, which were de­ter­mined to have come from Bell.

Po­lice found no fur­ther ev­i­dence at the time but submitted Bell’s elec­tronic de­vices to the Mary­land State Po­lice Crime Lab, and Bell was re­as­signed to the cen­tral of­fice, pend­ing the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Bell failed to show up for work and was ter­mi­nated, ac­cord­ing to school of­fi­cials.

In late June, the crime lab re­ported find­ing video on Bell’s elec­tronic de­vices of Bell sex­u­ally abus­ing mid­dle school-aged boys on school prop­erty and other lo­ca­tions.

Bell in­formed in­ves­ti­ga­tors he is HIV-pos­i­tive, and po­lice re­ceived ev­i­dence to sup­port the claim.

CHARLES COUTY SHER­IFF’S OF­FICE

Car­los Dean­gelo Bell, 30, of Wal­dorf.

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