Sex offense and battery charges against a county middle school teacher were dropped yesterday as part of an agreement with the state's attorney's office.
Four criminal cases against John G. Reichenbach Jr., 46, were placed on the inactive docket last August with the understanding that the charges would be dropped in six months if Reichenbach engaged in no criminal activity during that period.
Reichenbach, a teacher at Ellicott Mills Middle School in Ellicott City, was charged in May 1989 with fondling two 11-year-old girls who were students in his sixth-grade class. The girls alleged that Reichenbach fondled them in the classroom on two separate occasions between October 1988 and February 1989.
The state placed the cases on the inactive docket in part because of a pretrial ruling barring testimony against Reichenbach from other female students who alleged thatthe teacher fondled them.
Circuit Judge Cornelius F. Sybert's ruling substantially weakened the state's case against Reichenbach, saidDeputy State's Attorney Dwight S. Thompson.
Detective Larry Teixeira interviewed more than 12 female students with complaints against Reichenbach. Police and the state's attorney's office identified the two most credible witnesses in charging documents against the teacher. One of those girls later decided not to testify at the trial.
The two original state's witnesses have filed civil suits against Reichenbach, the county school system and Rose Levine, former principal ofEllicott Mills Middle School. The two lawsuits, seeking a combined $3.2 million in damages, allege that although the school system and Levine were aware of sex offense accusations against Reichenbach in November 1988, he was allowed to continue teaching.
When one of the students told Levine that Reichenbach had improperly touched her, the principal told the child not to worry about it but to let her know ifit happened again, the suit states.
Reichenbach was placed on administrative duty in the school system's central office after the criminal charges were filed nearly three years ago.