A Wilde Lake High School Spanish teacher was charged with child abuse Friday for the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old male student whom he was tutoring, police and court records said.
Mark Wilson Whiteford, 28, who has taught at Wilde Lake since August 1985, faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted.
The incident reportedly occurred Nov. 25 at Whiteford's Columbia home, in the 5700 block of Harper's Farm Road, police said. In an interview with detectives, Whiteford admitted to initiating sexual acts with the victim, court records said.
Whiteford was released on $10,000 unsecured bond. Appearing well-dressed and calm before a District Court Commissioner Friday, he and his attorney, David A. Greenbaum, refused to comment to reporters.
Court records said the victim, who is a student at Wilde Lake, was at Whiteford's home "with the expressed permission of (his) parents, who believed that the defendant was assisting their son with his English homework."
Court records said Whiteford had developed a "long-standing relationship of care and supervision" with the student since early 1990.
Whiteford, a drama coach at the high school, knew the student from theater productions and had also had "frequent associations" with the victim's family away from school, court records said.
Both Whiteford and the victim said in police interviews that sexual acts had taken place in Whiteford's home, court records said. Police say the victim's father said he had allowed his son to go to Whiteford's home to be tutored in his English studies.
The student alerted a state Department of Social Services official about the incident shortly after it occurred, police said. A police detective was contacted by the social services official on Nov. 29.
Police say the victim did not suffer any physical injury.
Patti Vierkant, a spokesperson for the county school system, said Whiteford has been a teacher at Wilde Lake since he joined county schools in 1985. He will remain on the payroll pending a finding on the criminal charge, Vierkant said.
Whiteford also will be taken out of the classroom pending the charge, she said.
"Any time we have a charge of abuse, the person is removed from contact with students," Vierkant said. However, no decision had been made Friday as to what administrative duties Whiteford would be assigned.