Educator acquitted of abusing foster son Assistant principal found not guilty, but faces trial in another case

December 21, 1996|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore middle school assistant principal was found not guilty yesterday of charges that he sexually abused a former foster son several years ago.

The Baltimore Circuit jury deliberated for more than an hour before finding Charles Michael Shockney Jr., 40, not guilty of sexual child abuse, a third-degree sex offense, and assault and battery of the boy, who is now 11.

Shockney, who has been assigned to administrative duties in the Northeast region of the city school system pending resolution of the charges, still faces trial in February on charges that he abused two other young boys during baby-sitting sessions or social situations. Those children were 4 and 5 years old at the time of the alleged abuse.

"Obviously I'm relieved it's over," Shockney of Glen Burnie said after yesterday's verdict. "I knew I was innocent."

The case came down to the word of the alleged victim, who said Shockney -- whom he sometimes called "Dad" -- had touched him sexually and tried to force him to have oral sex when he lived in the Shockney home from April 1992 to April 1993. The Sun does not name victims of alleged sexual abuse.

Testifying on closed-circuit television, the boy told the jury he was "disappointed" at his stay with the Shockneys and embarrassed about the sexual encounters he described. But he also said that he had heard voices and that the devil sometimes talked to him.

That, attorney Thomas Pavlinic argued to the jury, made his story hard to believe. "Does it lead you to any reasonable doubt that [the boy] was receiving psychiatric care, hearing voices, talking to the devil. six months before he ever met the Shockneys?" he said.

Prosecutor Michael Reed argued that the boy's awareness of his own problems made him credible, and that his natural reticence -- testified to by a caseworker -- explained why the child hadn't admitted abuse initially when he later said it had occurred.

"There is really no reason for [the boy] to make up this story," Reed said. "He has no motive to lie."

But Charles Shockney said on the witness stand that what the boy described never happened. "None of it's true," he said. He said he treated the boy as if he were his own son. "We did everything together. I felt I was supportive and loving. If he needed something, it was supplied."

The boy's parents have filed a civil lawsuit against the Shockneys and Columbia-based Baptist Family & Children's Services of Maryland Inc., which placed the boy in the home under "treatment" foster care, an intensive placement in which parents receive training for a child's special needs.

The lawsuit alleges that Shockney was charged with child abuse about nine years before the child lived with him. Baptist Family knew that when it placed the boy with the Shockneys between April 1992 and April 1993, the suit says.

That allegation did not come out during the criminal trial.

On the witness stand yesterday, Michael Jordan, who monitored the boy's care at the Shockneys' weekly while working for Baptist Family, said the child had complained to him once that Charles Shockney slapped him. Ten days later, the child recanted, Jordan said.

Pub Date: 12/21/96

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