Alleged sex abuse case puts spotlight on incident reports in Prince George’s schools -- Gazette.Net



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Prince George’s County police are investigating a Fort Washington teacher arrested for allegedly sexually abusing one of his students — a 13-year-old girl — over a 10-month period, spurring one school board member’s call for a review of how incidents are reported in schools.

Garnold Maurice King, 48, of Fort Washington was a social studies teacher at Isaac Gourdine Middle School when he allegedly committed the criminal acts both on and off school property, according to police. According to charging documents, the sexual abuse extended from Sept. 1, 2011, through June 30. King is facing charges of second-, third- and fourth-degree sex offense, second-degree assault, and two counts of sex abuse of a minor, according to online county court records.

Multiple attempts to reach King or King’s family for comment were not successful. A defense attorney for King was not listed with the courts by Tuesday, according to online court records.

King started teaching at Thurgood G. Marshall Middle School in Temple Hills at the start of this school year. Previously, he had been a teacher at Gourdine since 1994, according to Briant Coleman, a spokesman for the county school system. When the school system was made aware of the allegations, King was removed from the school, according to school system officials. He is now on administrative leave pending a criminal and administrative investigation, according to the county school system.

“Our number one priority is the protection and safety of our students, and we are deeply saddened to learn about this incident,” Coleman said in a statement.

County police arrested King on Dec. 6 at a school security office in Largo after a warrant for his arrest was issued Nov. 29, nearly five months after the alleged abuse ceased, said Lt. Bill Alexander, of the county police department.

County school board member Edward Burroughs III (Dist. 8) said he wants to review policies on reporting incidents such as abuse, harassment and bullying in schools in light of King’s charges but would not say if he suspected that others may have known about the incidents but failed to come forward.

“The system takes this matter very seriously, and as a district member, I take this matter extremely seriously,” he said. “I think moving forward, the system is prepared to look at policies across the country that deal with reporting so that our students and our staff have the supports in place that are needed to feel comfortable with stepping forward with all types of sensitive information. ... We’re definitely looking at how we support students and how we create a culture and environment where students feel comfortable with coming forward with any information regarding any issue they might be experiencing.”

According to the Administrative Procedure for Bullying, Harassment or Intimidation, the system has a number of steps in place for dealing with such incidents in schools.

Students are asked to report any activity to school staff or a trusted adult so that others are made aware of a situation. Students also are asked to complete a Bullying, Harassment or Intimidation Reporting Form found on www.pgcps.org/antibullying. Once the form is complete, administrators must promptly investigate the allegations within two days after receiving a form. That investigation includes speaking with the alleged victim and abuser, documenting findings and notifying school security, among other steps.

Coleman would not say why King switched to Thurgood Marshall for the 2012-2013 academic year or whether King was still receiving pay while on administrative leave.

“This is an ongoing investigation; therefore, I have no further comments on this matter,” he said in an email to The Gazette.

King was being held on $250,000 bond in the county's Department of Corrections in Upper Marlboro, but it was reduced to $125,000 after a bond review hearing, and he was released on bond Dec. 8, according to county police and online court records, which show he has no prior criminal record in Maryland.

Court records show King has a preliminary hearing Jan. 2.

King’s charging documents list him living in the 9600 block of Reiker Drive in the Largo area, though phone listings show an address in the 300 block of Lismore Drive in Fort Washington.

Reiker Drive resident Annie Davis said King used to live next to her but moved to Fort Washington roughly two years ago.

“He was one of our really good neighbors, a very nice guy,” Davis said. “This is one of those things where you hear about it and hope that it isn’t true.”

djgross@gazette.net