Bedford County man a repeat offender of Child Abuse
BEDFORD, Pennsylvania – For the second time in as many years, a Bedford County man has been found guilty of endangering the welfare of a child.
Cary Albright, 33, of Osterburg, was found guilty Thursday night after a day of testimony.
The most recent charges occurred after Memorial Day 2015 when Albright returned his 3-year-old son to the mother.
According to a release from the Bedford County District Bill Higgins, the mother discovered the child had been beaten. The child had injuries that included large bruises on both sides of the face and red marks around his neck, with black and blue bruising around other areas.
The release said the child was told by his father to say that he had fallen, but later admitted that “his daddy did this to me.”
In 2012, police responded to a domestic violence incident in which Albright allegedly slammed the same child’s head into a wall while attempting to flee the scene.
Two years later, a jury convicted Albright of endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest. He was sentenced to 11 months in jail.
Albright is scheduled to be sentenced on May 6 and will remain in jail on retainer until sentencing.
He remains in the Bedford County Jail on a parole violation detainer.
UPPER MARLBORO, MD (CN) – A Maryland elementary school choir director persuaded dozens of children to perform sexual acts on camera by telling them they were part of a “club,” a mother claims in a class action.
Jane Doe No. 2 sued the Prince George’s County Board of Education, elementary school principal Michelle Williams, and the alleged molester, teacher assistant Deonte Carraway, on Feb. 11 in Prince George’s County Court.
A second mother, Jane Doe. No. 1, filed a similar complaint, which was not a class action.
Carraway, 22, was arrested on Feb. 6 and charged with 10 counts of felony child pornography and sexual abuse.
He worked for the Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Glenarden as a paid teacher’s assistant from November 2014 to September 2015, then as an unpaid volunteer, according to the complaints.
According to the class action, “On multiple occasions, Carraway coerced John Doe No. 2 to engage in sexual acts with him on school property during school hours.”
Carraway also made the boy “engage in sexual acts with him on multiple occasions at the Glenarden Municipal Center” at Friday night choir practice, the mother says.
Carraway scheduled meetings with and sent photos and videos to John Doe 2 through the smartphone app Kik, which allows people to send anonymous photos and messages, Doe’s mother says.
Carraway’s predations began in early 2015 went on until January this year, when another student’s uncle “discovered that Carraway had been communicating with his nephew and other children on Kik,” the complaint states.
“The student’s uncle saw that there were inappropriate pictures of students that were sent through Kik.”
The uncle notified principal Williams on Feb. 4 this year and called police that night, according to the complaint. County police then found four SIM cards from Carraway’s cellphone.
“On just one of the SIM cards, there were at least 44 recordings of sexual acts involving children,” the complaint states.
It continues: “Upon information and belief, on some of the recordings, Carraway can be seen or heard directing the children to perform certain sexual acts.
“Upon information and belief, one of the recordings is of a child performing a sexual act on Carraway in a school bathroom while he recorded the act on his cellphone.
“The obscene recordings on Carraway’s phone range from 8-second clips to videos running over a minute.”
So brazen was Carraway that he would call students out of class and tell them they “would be participating in a ‘club’ with him to help persuade them to engage in these sexual acts on camera,” the complaint states.
His victims were as young as 9, and “the number of victims is at least 10, but it may be as many as 30,” according to the complaint.
Doe’s mom says that Carraway’s sexual abuse was “common knowledge among the students.”
She says that although parents and teachers “expressed concern” about Carraway’s “predatory behavior,” principal Williams took no action, claiming they had “no proof.”
Doe blames the “complete absence of any supervision and oversight of his conduct.”
Doe seeks class certification and damages for Title IX violations, other civil rights violations, violations of Maryland human rights law, negligent supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and battery.
She is represented by Timothy Maloney with Joseph, Greenwald & Laake in Greenbelt, who represents Jane Doe No. 1 in her lawsuit against the same defendants.
Attorney Maloney said the criminal and civil cases are just beginning.
“The shocking events at Sylvania Woods Elementary revealed a profound breach of trust,” Maloney said in an email Sunday.
Almost all of the nearly 700 students at Sylvania Woods are black and Latino and/or qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, according to The Washington Post.
Authorities have identified 17 victims so far, 9 to 13 years old, according to the Post.
Principal Williams is on paid leave, and Carraway is being held on a $1 million bond.
It is far from unusual in complaints such as this for parents to claim that school administrators knew of or had reason to know of a teacher’s abuse, but failed to take action.
“Ruining someone’s career can be actionable,” one attorney with knowledge of such cases told Courthouse News. “Failing to ruin someone’s career is less actionable.”
Finding the public has a right to know about child-abuse deaths and serious injuries, a state Appeals Court panel has issued a forceful ruling in a case brought by the state’s two largest newspapers.
In a major rebuke to state officials who fought to withhold such records, the Appeals Court ruled the Cabinet for Health and Family Services must pay legal costs and penalties of nearly $1 million to The Courier-Journal and Lexington Herald-Leader.
Calling the cabinet’s conduct “egregious,” Appeals Court Judge Irv Maze, who wrote the opinion for the panel, said the case reveals “the culture of secrecy” at the cabinet and “its misguided belief that the Open Records Act is merely an ideal, a suggestion to be taken when it is convenient and flagrantly disregarded when it is not.”
“It’s a terrific ruling, just terrific,” said Jon Fleischaker, who represented The Courier-Journal in the case. “We hope this puts an end to it.”
The administration of Gov. Matt Bevin on Friday blamed the outcome on his predecessor, Steve Beshear, whose officials denied access to the records in the case that dates back to 2010.
“The court’s opinion is based on a serious coverup during the Beshear administration that has now led to an unfortunate million-dollar liability for the commonwealth’s taxpayers,” Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said. “In the Bevin administration, things will be very different – we will hold ourselves accountable and be accessible to the public, particularly regarding the most vulnerable members of society.”
In his opinion, Maze cited the cabinet’s “systematic and categorical disregard for the rule of law” as grounds for upholding penalties of $756,000 against it for refusing to follow the open records law or previous court orders of the trial judge in the case, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd.
The panel also included Judges Jeff Taylor and Janet Stumbo.
Shepherd had sharply criticized the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services for withholding key records in several high-profile child abuse cases in which it had been involved.
One involved the 2011 death of Amy Dye, 9, who was beaten to death in her adoptive home in Todd County. The other involved the 2009 death of Wayne County toddler Kayden Branham, who died after drinking drain cleaner from a meth lab in a trailer where the child’s teenage parents were staying.
Shepherd at one point found the cabinet “intentionally adopted a legal strategy designated to delay, obstruct and circumvent the court’s ruling,” a finding cited by Maze in his opinion.
Friday’s Appeals Court ruling comes after a legal battle of nearly six years by the newspapers over access to the cabinet’s records in such cases.
It also comes after a similar ruling in December by the same Appeals Court panel, upholding an award of $16,625 in legal costs to the Todd County Standard in a separate case where that newspaper had sought records related to the Amy Dye death.
In that case, the cabinet first ignored the records request from the weekly newspaper in Western Kentucky, then denied having any such records before eventually producing them at the order of Shepherd, who released them.
In the case decided Friday, The Courier-Journal and Herald-Leader had requested two years worth of records of child-abuse death and injuries, totally about 140 cases.
The cabinet initially refused to release any of the records, citing confidentiality. After a series of rulings by Shepherd in favor of disclosure, it began releasing some heavily redacted material. It eventually began disclosing nearly all material requested by the newspapers.
While the cabinet’s investigations of child-abuse and neglect cases are confidential, federal and state law make an exception when the abuse or neglect results in a death or life-threatening injury to a child.
The Appeals Court did not rule directly on the issue of the cabinet’s duty to release the records, finding the issue to be moot because the cabinet already has begun providing such records upon request, acting on Shepherd’s orders.
But the cabinet also challenged the newspapers’ legal fees of about $300,000 as well as $765,000 in fines.
Taylor concurred with the overall finding but dissented over whether the cabinet should pay the fines as imposed by Shepherd.
Under open records law, an agency may be fined up to $25 per day for every day it “willfully” withholds a public record.
Shepherd, finding that the cabinet had willfully withheld 140 cases, fined it $10 a day for the 540 days he calculated the cabinet had wrongly withheld records from the newspaper for the total of $765,000.
But Taylor, in his dissent, argued the fines should have been calculated by the number of persons requesting them – in this case, the two newspapers – rather than by all 140 cases, which would have resulted in a much lower fine.
The case now returns to Franklin Circuit Court for Shepherd to rule on the issue of the fines and legal fees.
FBI assisting in school volunteer Child Porn
GLENARDEN, MD – On Wednesday, the principal of a school where a volunteer allegedly took videos of children performing sex acts, was placed on administrative leave.
This announcement came a day after the FBI joined in the investigation into 22-year-old Deonte Carraway who faces charges of producing child pornography and child sexual abuse.
Prince George’s County police said Carraway took videos of children performing the sex acts on each other and that it happened during the school day on school grounds.
Police also say Carraway used his phone installed with the Kik messaging app to record children as young as 9 years old. Some of the videos were filmed at his direction while Carraway is a participant in others.
One of the videos is shot inside a bathroom at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Glenarden.
Police have been onto Carraway since last Thursday night and have expanded the investigation to include the FBI.
In a news release, the FBI said:
“The FBI Maryland Child Exploitation Task Force and the Prince George’s County Police Department are investigating an elementary school volunteer and community choir director for producing child pornography and child sexual abuse. Prince George’s County Police detectives arrested 22-year-old Deonte Carraway on February 5, after a victim’s relative found a nude photo on the child’s phone. The FBI has set up its hotline 1-800-CALL-FBI for anyone to use if they believe they know a victim, or have any information that may help investigators in this case.
“Investigators say the suspect targeted victims and videotaped sexual acts between minors during the school day at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Glenarden. They believe sex abuse and/or child pornography was also produced at the Glenarden Municipal Center, Theresa Banks Memorial Aquatic Center as well as in private homes.
“If you or anyone you know is concerned about a possible victim in this case, you are asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). You may also call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Child and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Unit at 301-772-4930.”
“At this point, we know there are at least ten victims,” said Prince George’s County police spokesperson Julie Parker. “Our concern is that number could grow and could grow by a large amount. We don’t know that yet. We are not there yet and that is why there is so much time and resources devoted to this – to figure out how big of an investigation we are dealing with.”
According to a source familiar with the investigation, Carraway came to the city of Glenarden in 2014 and asked if he could start a choir and rehearse inside the Glenarden Municipal Center. It is a choir made up of young children from 9 to 13 years old.
The 22-year-old also did some work with children across the street at the Theresa Banks Memorial Aquatic Center. No one at the center would comment on what exactly Carraway did there.
He was also a volunteer at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School and lived in Glenarden with his mother at an apartment on Glenarden Parkway.
“We have received about 20 phone calls from the community, several of them being tips regarding Deonte Carraway,” said Parker.
No one with Prince George’s County Public Schools would go on camera on Tuesday. But in a statement, the school system said officials are shocked by the allegations and said, “Employees and volunteers go through a proper screening process.”
Police said Carraway used the Kik messaging app to communicate with the kids and others. A nude photo sent through Kik on a victim’s phone was discovered by a relative of the victim and sparked this investigation.
Of the victims in this case, some of them are students at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School. Police said videos were also made at the Glenarden Municipal Center and the Theresa Banks Memorial Aquatic Center.
On Tuesday, many in this Prince George’s County school community expressed outrage over this news. It has also become clear that many parents had been concerned about Carraway’s behavior towards their children.
One parent at the school told us he has had concerns about Carraway acting overly familiar with kids, especially after his son told him that Carraway had been showing students self-made boxing and mixed martial arts videos on his phone as well as videos of his home.
“Always! You come here around 8 p.m. and he’s always around 7-Eleven, always doing something,” said Neftali Ardueta. “He’s telling my kid, ‘Oh, you can come to my church,’ and I’m like, ‘You are not going to his church.’
Throughout the day on Tuesday, there was a constant police presence at the elementary school. A Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesperson said that the school’s vice principal asked for that added security after the media arrived on school property.
But all of the media got an earful from parents wanting to know how a man in their own child’s school was allegedly able to produce child pornography here without anyone knowing about it until Carraway’s arrest. They said they are upset, hurt and worried that the ten victims identified so far may just be the start.
“I had to talk to my child to make sure that my children understand that if something were to happen to them, make sure they tell,” said Riva Thomas. “And that’s not a conversation I don’t think we are supposed to have in school.”
“It’s sad and heartbreaking that kids have to keep going through this,” said another parent. “And as parents, we have to step up and be more aware of what our kids are doing.”