Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

Ballmann released on bond

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A Rockville middle school teacher indicted in July on charges that he abused two students is out on bond, a month after a previous bond request was denied.

A status hearing and bond review was held Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court to determine if Joseph Robert Ballmann, 47, of Rockville could be released before his criminal trial in January and whether the two cases against him could be consolidated into one, said Donna Weaver, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. She said both motions were granted.

Weaver said he was released Monday on a $150,000 property bond.

She added that there are several special conditions of his release, including that he must wear an electronic monitoring ankle device.

Ballmann had been held at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Clarksburg.

His attorney, Stephen B. Mercer, could not be reached for comment by Gazette press time.

Ballmann, a teacher at Robert Frost Middle School, was indicted by a county grand jury on July 5, charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor, three counts of sexual abuse in the third-degree, one count of sexual solicitation of a minor, one count of exhibition of pornography to a minor and two counts of manufacture or possession of a destructive device.

Ballmann was arrested May 2 at his home in the 11100 block of Cedarwood Drive and charged in connection with the alleged sexual abuse of a former Frost student. Police say that Ballmann abused the student on numerous occasions from spring 2004 to May 2005 at Ballmann’s residence. The student is now 15.

Ballmann paid bond at that time and was released.

On June 7, the county State’s Attorney’s Office filed a motion seeking to have the bond for that case revoked, citing new evidence. The motion was granted.

Ballmann was arrested that same day in the 81900 block of Falling Star Road in Germantown in connection with an alleged incident involving another student. Police say that Ballmann engaged in inappropriate sexual contact between 1995 and 1997 with a boy who was in the seventh and eighth grades at Westland Middle School in Bethesda at the time. The alleged victim is now 24 years old.

Bond was set at $150,000, but could not be paid because of the action taken by the State’s Attorney’s Office.

On July 16, a motions hearing was held at Montgomery County Circuit Court to determine if Ballmann could be released from jail before criminal trial. The motion was denied.

Ballmann has been a bus driver for the Montgomery County school system, served as a substitute teacher, taught English and social studies at Westland, and taught English at Robert Frost until his arrest, school system officials confirmed.

He remains on administrative leave without pay, Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Brian Edwards told The Gazette Tuesday afternoon.

Ballmann’s jury trial was originally scheduled for October, but has been rescheduled to Jan. 28 of next year.