Two accused of sexually abusing Montgomery students -- Gazette.Net


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This report was updated 4:30 p.m. May 8, 2012.

An English teacher at Neelsville Middle School in Germantown and a former media services technician at Northwood High School in Silver Spring were arrested Monday on unrelated charges of sexually abusing students.

Both men are accused of engaging in sexual contact with students at their schools, according to Montgomery County police.

The teacher, Cuyler Jay Cornell, 50, of Stonebridge Court in Gaithersburg, has been on administrative leave since early March, when administrators at the school received reports he was acting inappropriately with a 14-year-old male student, according to police charging documents and Dana Tofig, a spokesman for Montgomery County Public Schools.

Cornell befriended the victim during the last school year when the boy was in Cornell’s seventh-grade class, according to police charging documents. Cornell acted as a mentor to the student and often let the boy use his computer, but only if the boy agreed to sit on Cornell’s lap while doing so, the documents state.

School employees reported witnessing suspicious behavior between Cornell and the boy, including one teacher who walked into Cornell’s classroom to find the boy on Cornell’s lap and another who surprised Cornell and the boy as they sat in “a darkened auxiliary room.”

Administrators contacted police about Cornell’s behavior in February, said county police spokeswoman Officer Janelle Smith. Cornell has been charged with two counts of third-degree sexual offense and one count for the sexual abuse of a minor, according to online court records. He was released on a $100,000 bond late Monday.

“I know this news is extremely upsetting for our parents, our students and our staff,” Neelsville Principal L. Victoria Lake-Parcan in a letter to parents.

A woman who answered the phone at Cornell’s residence hung up after a reporter identified himself Monday.

Sandra Butler of Germantown, whose husband, Arthur, is president of the Neelsville Middle School PTA, said her son was a student in Cornell’s English class last year, where Cornell said it was his first year as a teacher there. She said she was unaware of any allegations against him Monday.

Tofig said Monday he could not provide details of where Cornell had worked within the school system or for how long.

Attorney information for Cornell was unavailable Tuesday.

Abuse alleged at Northwood High School

The media services technician arrested Monday — Aaron William Murray La Mere, 39, of the 25400 block of Jarl Drive in Gaithersburg — was released after posting $50,000 bail following his bond review hearing Tuesday.

During the hearing, Paul Stein, La Mere’s defense attorney, argued that his client did not have any prior criminal record and did not pose a risk to the community.

“He’s known about this for months and he could have fled already if he wanted to,” Stein said. “He’s turned himself in, he’s been compliant with all other requirements.”

County Assistant State’s Attorney Amanda Michalski argued that, soon after he resigned March 7, La Mere attempted to get rid of evidence from his old work computer, including a naked photo of a former student.

Judge Patricia L. Mitchell reduced La Mere’s bail from $150,000 but did mandate that the new, $50,000 bail be paid in full and La Mere be on close supervision upon his release.

Investigation by school officials and police revealed that the laptop La Mere used while working at the school contained child pornography, Tofig and police said.

La Mere is also accused of sexual offenses against three male students, ages 15 to 17. From November 2011 until shortly before La Mere resigned, three students reported receiving solicitations for sex from La Mere via text messages, according to La Mere’s charging documents.

La Mere exposed himself to two of the students and showed them pornographic images of underage children, the charging documents state.

La Mere started working for the school system at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring during the 2003-04 school year as a para-professional, Tofig said. He has since worked at Northwood.

La Mere was put on administrative leave March 7, when administrators learned of the allegations, Tofig said. La Mere resigned that day.

Detectives were told March 14 that La Mere had child pornography, according to La Mere’s charging documents.

La Mere was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography, four counts of sexual solicitation of a minor, four counts of committing a third-degree sex offense, three counts of sexual abuse of a minor, two counts of indecent exposure and one count of fourth-degree sex offense.

Stein declined the comment on his client’s case after the bond hearing.

Several of La Mere’s family members, including his father and sister, were in court Tuesday. They declined to comment following the hearing.

Calls to La Mere’s residence Monday were unanswered.

jarias@gazette.net