Teacher sentenced in fondling is facing more charges

November 21, 1996|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

An elementary school teacher from Ellicott City who was sentenced yesterday to six months in jail for sexually fondling a teen-age boy faces additional charges after a second teen-ager came forward after learning of the teacher's conviction, police said.

Craig A. Smith, 37, who taught music at Swansfield Elementary School in Columbia's Harper's Choice village, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Donna Hill Staton to 18 months in the Howard County Detention Center with all but six months suspended.

Hill Staton also placed the former Boy Scout leader on three years of supervised probation after his release and ordered him not to work with children under age 18. He must also abstain from alcohol.

Richard M. Karceski, Smith's attorney in the first case, could not be reached for comment. But court records indicate he plans to appeal Smith's July conviction.

Smith was found guilty of fondling a West Columbia teen-age boy in the summer of 1994 at Smith's house in Ellicott City after the two got drunk and fell asleep in the same bed.

Three weeks ago, Smith was arrested on separate charges of sexual child abuse, a third-degree sex offense, a fourth-degree sex offense and battery stemming from allegations by another West Columbia teen-age boy. The child abuse charge has a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. No trial date has been set.

Charging documents filed in Howard District Court allege Smith HTC fondled the second accuser four or five times between 1988 and 1990. The boy, who was 8 years old in 1988, came forward after learning of Smith's conviction in newspaper accounts, the documents say.

Two teachers at the boy's school told police this fall that they saw the boy sitting on Smith's lap during an elementary-school baseball game about seven years ago. They told police they believed it was inappropriate, according to the documents.

Smith was suspended from his job at Swansfield Elementary after the first charges came to light. He is still employed by the school district, school spokeswoman Patti Caplan said yesterday. She could not say whether his sentencing would result in his dismissal.

In previous situations in which school employees have been charged with crimes, the school system has waited until the cases were finished before taking action against employees, she said.

Pub Date: 11/21/96

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