Former dean pleads guilty to enticing girl, 14

Gilman official used computer to seek sex

Maximum 15-year sentence

He was caught in sting aimed at predators

April 28, 2001|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

The former dean of students at Gilman School, who was caught last fall in a federal Internet sting, admitted yesterday that he used his home computer to entice a 14-year-old girl to meet him to have sex.

Geoffrey C. Stewart, 32, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of using an interstate commerce facility to coerce or induce a minor into sexual activity. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison at sentencing Aug. 2.

Stewart, who court records indicate lives in Washington, no longer works at Gilman, a school spokesman said in a statement.

Stewart joined the faculty of the private boys school in Roland Park in September. He was arrested Nov. 7 when he went to Towson Town Center expecting to meet "Jeni" but instead encountering an FBI agent and a Baltimore County detective who had posed as the 14-year-old cheerleader as part of a police effort to identify potential predators online.

According to court records, investigators had been tracking Stewart since May, after he first made contact with "Jeni" in an America Online chat room called "OlderM4YoungerF."

In the initial conversations, Stewart asked how old she was, what she looked like and her bra size, according to court records. In online conversations that grew increasingly graphic, Stewart said he wanted to meet the girl and to become involved with her sexually.

Stewart, who lived with his wife in Baltimore when he was arrested, also warned that their exchanges could land him in trouble. In one message, he asked the girl to send her picture before they met.

"I need to be sure you're not a 35-year-old man or something! Pretending to be a sexy teen ... or a cop, or the FBI," Stewart said, according to transcripts of the electronic conversations.

In court yesterday, attorney Michael Schatzow of Baltimore indicated to U.S. District Judge Frederic N. Smalkin that Stewart was seeking counseling.

"This is just a real tragedy for a lot of people involved," Schatzow said.

The case against Stewart was investigated in part by the FBI's Innocent Images program, which targets online pornography traffickers and stalkers using computers. Other local and federal police agencies have undertaken similar efforts in recent years.

In a case brought by customs and postal investigators, Dr. John P. Serlemitsos, an Anne Arundel County physician, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to one count of possessing child pornography on the computer at his home in Crownsville.

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