This story was updated at 4 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2014.
A Briggs Chaney Middle School teacher was arrested on Jan. 8 and charged with three counts of second-degree assault involving other school employees, according to Montgomery County police.
The assault charges stem from incidents of unwanted physical contact with three female coworkers at the Silver Spring school, police said.
“We have three victims that have come forward,” said Cpl. Rebecca Innocenti, a spokeswoman for county police.
Walter Stafon Bowman, 37, of the 4900 block of Veronica Court in Indian Head was also charged with one count of false imprisonment for allegedly holding one of the three school employees in a tight hug, Innocenti said.
He was arrested around 6:20 a.m., she said.
Kush Arora, Bowman’s attorney, said Bowman is “very, very frustrated” and surprised by the allegations.
“Mr. Bowman told me that he considered these people friends and colleagues, and he held them in great esteem,” he said.
Dana Tofig, a spokesman for Montgomery County Public Schools, said Bowman has been placed on administrative leave pending further action.
He also had been placed on administrative leave earlier this school year, Tofig said. Tofig said no additional information is available because that was a personnel matter.
Bowman previously worked at Needwood Academy in Rockville for a few months in 2009 and A. Mario Loiederman Middle School in Silver Spring from August 2012 to June 2013, Tofig said.
One female school employee reported that Bowman assaulted her twice between Aug. 26 and Aug. 29, according to police.
In the first incident, Bowman entered the employee’s office unannounced and put his hands on her shoulders. In the second incident, Bowman placed the employee in a bear hug until she was able to break free.
Another female employee said she was standing in her classroom in September when Bowman approached her from behind, crouched on the floor and touched her ankle, according to police.
The third employee said Bowman grabbed her from behind around the waist in September, police said.
Police were speaking with school employees as part of their investigation, Innocenti said.
According to Bowman’s charging documents, police believed Bowman assaulted other people who are afraid to come forward.
The three employees and the others who have not come forward “are in fear for their safety,” according to the charging documents. The employees who have come forward have felt the need for an escort to accompany them when they needed to talk to Bowman.
“Having to work with (Bowman) on a daily basis, they are terrified that (Bowman) will further assault them,” the documents said.
Arora called the charges irresponsible, saying he thinks county police are usually better at “making sure charges are brought when appropriate.”
The county school system investigated Bowman earlier in the school year and did not find him at fault, Arora said.
“This is a matter that’s already been investigated and, in my opinion, already been put to rest,” he said.
A Jan. 8 letter posted to the school’s website from Principal Tamitha Campbell alerted parents of Bowman’s arrest and placement on administrative leave.
“While these are only allegations at this point, I know this news is very upsetting,” Campbell said in the letter. “We have high expectations of professionalism for our staff in how they deal with our students and one another.”
The school also informed parents through Connect Ed, a notification service.
Detectives have been investigating Bowman since Jan. 6, when they received notice of reports that he had assaulted three female coworkers.
Innocenti said someone other than a school staff person called police about Bowman.
Bowman’s grandmother Jessie Guinyard — reached by The Gazette Jan. 8 at the home she lives in with Bowman — said she was unaware he had been arrested.
“He always been a fine person,” she said. “He has been no more than a great person.”
Guinyard said she hadn’t seen her grandson since the morning of Jan. 8, when he left around 5 a.m. to go to the school.
Detectives are asking anyone else who believes Bowman assaulted them to call 4th District investigators at 240-773-5530.