Essex school counselor reports second attack

January 06, 1995|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County police are investigating an attack on a guidance counselor who was found bound and gagged in her office at Mars Estates Elementary School on Wednesday morning.

It was the second time in two months that the woman has reported being attacked by the same man at the Essex school.

School staff members found Mary Elizabeth Tourangeau, 35, on the floor of her office with duct tape on her mouth, wrists and legs, police said. She had scratches on her neck but did not require medical treatment, said Cpl. Kevin B. Novak, county police spokesman.

Students who had a 10:30 a.m. appointment with the guidance counselor alerted administrators after they could not find her. The students said that when they knocked on her door, someone knocked back but did not open the door. It was Ms. Tourangeau kicking the door to let the students know she was there, police said.

Authorities said that the attacker could have been waiting for Ms. Tourangeau in her office. No one else in the school has reported seeing the assailant -- described as a white male, about 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds.

In late November, Ms. Tourangeau was found on the floor of her office, trapped under a filing cabinet. She said the same man had pushed the cabinet on top of her, according to Principal Stephen W. Mackert.

At the time, she told police that the man had said, "Stay away from my son."

Ms. Tourangeau told police that she had never seen the man before the Nov. 30 incident and that she did not know the boy to whom he was referring, Corporal Novak said. No one else reported seeing the man then either, police said.

The Homberg Avenue school has about 700 students, Mr. Mackert said. Ms. Tourangeau has been at Mars Estates since 1983, first as a teacher and for the past four years as a guidance counselor.

She works with individual students and class groups on a range of problems, he said, but there is no obvious motive for the attacks. "We assume that it was something that he did not like," he said.

After the November incident, school officials tightened security by putting a receptionist in the hallway that leads to the counselor's office. The receptionist told police that she saw no one pass her desk between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Wednesday. Ms. Tourangeau also has been keeping her office door locked at all times, the principal said.

Since this week's incident, all adults must enter the building through the front door. An additional phone has been installed and other safety precautions are being taken, school officials said.

The two assistant principals talked with students in their classrooms yesterday to explain that there had been an intruder and to calm fears about their safety.

Mr. Mackert also sent letters to parents, explaining the incident and inviting them to call. He said that he had received about 10 calls by yesterday afternoon.

Ms. Tourangeau will be assigned to another school "for her own safety," Mr. Mackert said.

Corporal Novak said that police do not have any leads on a suspect and that results of tests on fingerprints and other evidence will not be available until next week.

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