The Washington Post

Man shot over abuse allegation­s is charged

Day-care provider’s husband is accused of molesting children

- BY PAUL DUGGAN

A man who police say was shot by his wife in a D.C. hotel last week, prompting a brief barricade situation, has been charged with sexually abusing children at his wife’s Maryland day-care center, according to authoritie­s.

James S. Weems Jr., 57, a former Baltimore police officer, and his wife, Shanteari Weems, 50, owner of the Lil Kidz Kastle day-care center in Baltimore County, were in an eighth-floor room at the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel in Southwest Washington when the shooting occurred Thursday night, D.C. police said.

In a court affidavit, investigat­ors said Shanteari Weems told them she and her husband, of Randallsto­wn, Md., got in a heated argument over complaints that he had sexually abused children at her day-care facility.

On Tuesday, Baltimore County police said they obtained an arrest warrant for James Weems charging him with 13 sex crimes related to the abuse of “at least three children” at Lil Kidz Kastle.

James Weems remains hospitaliz­ed in the District with two gunshot wounds that are not considered life-threatenin­g, according to D.C. police. They said

he is now considered a fugitive from justice in Maryland and has been placed under guard at the hospital.

Meanwhile, Shanteari Weems is being held in the D.C. jail, charged with assault with intent to kill her husband and several handgun offenses. She has pleaded not guilty in D.C. Superior Court and is scheduled to appear for a preliminar­y hearing Friday.

One of her lawyers, Tony N. Garcia, said in an interview Tuesday that Shanteari Weems contends she shot her husband in self-defense after their argument “turned violent” and he “started coming toward her.”

Baltimore police said James Weems was an officer in the city from 1996 to 2005 and subsequent­ly was a “contract specialist” for the department until 2008, doing administra­tive work. He has not yet appeared in court and it is unclear whether he has an attorney. Efforts to reach relatives of James Weems were unsuccessf­ul.

Garcia said James Weems assisted his wife at the day-care center, in the Owings Mills area of Baltimore County, and also did private security work, including serving as a bodyguard.

D.C. police said they were called to the Mandarin Oriental, in the 1300 block of Maryland Avenue SW, shortly after 7:30 p.m. Thursday for a report of gunshots in Room 853. When patrol officers in the hallway asked Shanteari Weems “to come out of the room so officers could assist the person shot,” the affidavit says, she “began making statements like ‘I’m going to kill myself.’ ”

The standoff lasted less than an hour, police said.

When officers asked her to “verify if there was a person shot inside,” she referred to her husband by an expletive and said, “He’s a child molester,” according to the affidavit. James Weems then yelled that he had been shot in the head and leg, and his wife responded, ‘Shut the f--- up, I will kill you,’ ” the affidavit says. It says officers then “moved to make entry” and took Shanteari Weems into custody.

Joy Lepola-stewart, a Baltimore County police spokeswoma­n, said Tuesday that detectives began investigat­ing James Weems this month “after allegation­s surfaced that Weems sexually abused at least three children while working” at Lil Kidz Kastle. She said the arrest warrant includes “multiple charges” of sexual abuse of a minor and second-, third- and fourth-degree sex offense. It is unclear when the alleged abused occurred.

In a police interview, Shanteari Weems said she drove to D.C. from her Baltimore County home on July 20, the day before the shooting, “to meet with her husband” of five years at the hotel, according to the affidavit. It says Weems told police that she had “received multiple messages and phone calls from parents and teachers” about sexual abuse at the day-care center.

Her lawyer, Garcia, said Shanteari Weems had “built her business from scratch,” starting in the early 2000s, and that the allegation­s of sexual abuse by her husband “were pretty earth-shattering.” Garcia said his client decided to drive to D.C. to discuss the matter with her husband, who was staying at the Mandarin Oriental in connection with his security work.

According to the affidavit, Shanteari Weems told D.C. police that on Thursday, “the conversati­on escalated into a full-blown argument” and “at some point in the argument, her husband stood up and started towards her,” so she shot him.

“She insists that she was defending herself,” Garcia said.

Police found two handguns in the room along with a notebook in which Shanteari Weems had written that she intended to shoot her husband to make him suffer, but not kill him, and that she wanted him to be exposed as a child molester, according to the affidavit.

Garcia said one of the handguns belonged to his client, who is licensed to carry it in Maryland, and the other belonged to James Weems. As for the notes, which possibly indicate that the shooting was planned, Garcia said, “We’re still gathering informatio­n.”

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