Teacher gets 60 days for sex acts with student

December 15, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

A popular Hereford High School English teacher received a 60-day jail sentence yesterday for sexual child abuse after admitting that he became enamored of a senior student eight years ago and engaged in a variety of acts with her that fell short of intercourse.

John F. Sherman, 45, of the 1700 block of Troyer Road, Monkton, was arrested Oct. 1, after Baltimore County police recorded a conversation with the victim, who is now 26.

Sherman pleaded guilty in return for the prosecutor's recommendation that he be allowed to serve any jail time locally and on work-release. He could have received up to 15 years in prison.

His victim called authorities as a result of Anne Arundel County teacher Ronald W. Price's highly publicized convictions for having sex with three former students.

In a statement, the Hereford victim said, "I never had any intention of going public about what John Sherman did to me. But when the Ron Price case came out, I was too worried that there might be other victims to keep quiet any longer. . . ."

Sherman told Circuit Judge J. William Hinkel that he has resigned from teaching, which "I truly love." He also is being treated for "profound depression," said defense attorney Thomas C. Morrow.

Although the woman wrote that she didn't want her former teacher jailed, Judge Hinkel said it was necessary to deter others. He allowed Sherman to report after Christmas because he has 6- and 10-year-old daughters. Sherman also is to continue counseling and perform 250 hours of community service.

The Price case was on the minds of all sides during yesterday's proceeding.

"It is important that I not sentence you because of Ron Price -- I don't know him," Judge Hinkel told Sherman. But this case "certainly is in the category of outrageous conduct."

According to an agreed-upon statement of facts, Sherman was the victim's class adviser, and she was a class officer and his teacher's aide in 1984 when he first asked her to go into a book closet, where he asked to hug her, then began to kiss and rub against her.

He began sending her notes about how nice she looked and told her to destroy them, said Assistant State's Attorney Stephen Bailey. They ate lunch together, and incidents of fondling and touching continued.

As graduation and her 18th birthday neared, the prosecutor said, Sherman began giving her rides home from sporting events and once went into her bedroom and tried to have her perform oral sex. Just after graduation, he asked her to his house -- claiming he was baby-sitting for his two children -- but instead lay half-nude with her and performed a sex act.

Although Sherman wanted a relationship after her graduation, the woman severed the ties and ignored letters he sent to her at college.

Mr. Morrow presented letters of support for Sherman and said that the crime was "truly an isolated incident" and arose from "genuine affection."

In a brief statement yesterday, Sherman apologized to the woman and assured her and the judge that there have been no other victims.

Mr. Bailey said there have been no other complainants. But he told the judge, "He was the teacher at Hereford, the popular teacher. I think everybody growing up can remember a popular teacher that everybody looked up to and wanted to be befriended by.

"He abused that relationship. She was going through a difficult time and needed an adult to confide in. He knew all that," the prosecutor continued. "I need to say in court that we recognize that she was not to blame, that she was the victim of a crime . . . that destroyed her senior year at school with gossip."

"She was even ostracized to some extent by the community simply by coming forward to have this man held responsible for what he did to her," he said. "This was not an affair. This was sexual child abuse."

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