Police charge teacher with abusing student

School district puts man to work in main office temporarily

April 12, 2000|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Howard County police have charged a Glenelg High School teacher with abusing and assaulting one of his students twice almost two years ago, authorities said yesterday.

David Leland Stevens, 55, who until November was the head of the school's science department, turned himself in yesterday at the Southern District police station. He was charged with two counts of child abuse and two counts of second-degree assault.

After a short hearing at District Court, a commissioner released him on his own recognizance.

Stevens, of the 7500 block of Woodbine Road in Woodbine, would not comment on the charges.

Patti Caplan, Howard schools spokeswoman, said that when accusations are made against teachers or other staff members, it is district policy to remove them from any contact with students.

Since November, Stevens has been working at the school district's central office in Ellicott City, where he will remain "until there is a legal resolution or we have enough evidence to take administrative action," Caplan said. "And that, very honestly, is for the protection of the staff member as well as the students."

The school district does background checks on and fingerprints all new hires, she said, but didn't start that practice until 1986.

Stevens has been a teacher in Howard County schools since 1975. He taught science at Howard High School until 1982 and then went to Glenelg High.

Since 1985, 11 Howard County teachers have resigned or have been dismissed as a result of sexual-abuse convictions, Caplan said.

"It is important to remember that people are innocent until proven guilty," she added.

According to charging documents filed in District Court, in November detectives began investigating allegations that Stevens sexually assaulted a 14-year-old female student in 1998. She told detectives during an interview Nov. 11 that Stevens had sexually assaulted her twice between February and June 1998 when he was her freshman earth sciences teacher.

In the first alleged assault, she said, she had gone to his classroom after school for a makeup test. As she was taking the test, she said, Stevens walked behind her desk and massaged her shoulders. She said that she was shocked that he was touching her and asked him to stop. He refused. She told detectives that she moved forward in her seat, and he put his hand down her blouse. She told him again to stop, she said, but he refused. She left the room without finishing the test, the documents said.

In the second alleged assault, the student said she went to his classroom to have him to sign a permission slip that would allow her to take a college-level course. When she arrived , she found Stevens in a storage room off to the side of the classroom. She asked him to come out and sign the slip, she said, but he told her to come inside. She did, and he signed the slip.

As she turned to leave, the documents said, he grabbed her, pushed her against the wall and put one of his hands inside her shirt and another hand under her dress. When she asked him to stop, he told her to "shut up," the documents state. She said she struggled with him and ran out of the room.

Sgt. John Superson, a Howard police spokesman, said detectives are investigating other allegations of abuse from current and former students.

Sun staff writers Tanika White and Jamie Smith Hopkins contributed to this article.

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