Former teacher pleads guilty to child sex abuse

High school drama coach molested male student, 16

February 12, 2003|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A former high school English teacher and drama coach pleaded guilty in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court yesterday to one count of child abuse involving one of his students at Arundel Senior High School last year.

Lawrence Alan Mintline Jr., 36, who quit his job last month as the school system was about to begin disciplinary proceedings, was accused in a four-count indictment of child abuse and misdemeanor assault of a 16-year-old boy.

Yesterday, he admitted to molesting the student at his apartment, at school and at the youth's home. The maximum possible sentence is 15 years in prison.

Assistant State's Attorney Sandra Foy Howell said that at Mintline's April 9 sentencing, she will seek a term within state guidelines, expected to be between probation and two years in prison.

Mintline will have to register with the state as a child sex offender, Howell said.

"It was a negotiated plea that I thought was a good way to proceed because the defendant could be held responsible for the actions he had committed, and without additional trauma to the victim," Howell said.

The student and his family agreed, she said. They did not attend yesterday's hearing, and the student's father later declined to discuss the matter. The Sun does not publish the names of victims of sexual abuse.

Mintline, of Glen Burnie, spoke only to answer questions from Judge Joseph P. Manck. He and his lawyer, Thomas C. Morrow, declined to comment after the brief court session.

In court, Morrow said he disputed minor points in Howell's detailed discussion of incidents involving Mintline and the student. Howell said those incidents illustrated that what was a teacher-student relationship when the student was a ninth- and tenth-grader became "more of a friendship" last year, the student's junior year.

Howell, describing the student as shy and reserved, detailed private moments between the student and teacher that she said took place last summer and fall. She said the student's friends grew concerned about the relationship last year and alerted authorities.

Mark Black, senior manager for employee relations and investigations, said yesterday he knows of no other allegations against Mintline. Standard practice is for the county school system to refer teachers found to have committed felonies to the State Board of Education for decertification.

The allegations last year involving the popular teacher and drama coach sent the school community reeling at a time when the drama group had recovered from an earlier scandal. Mintline took over the club in 1996 from a coach who had pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography over the Internet.

Parents said they had been concerned about what they considered questionable behavior by Mintline, including touching students, close friendships and yelling at drama club members until they cried.

One parent lodged the only formal complaint against the teacher -- several months before Mintline was accused of abuse -- alleging in part that Mintline left his daughter and other students to fend for themselves during a trip to New York. He also said Mintline engaged in late-night online chats with students.

The principal investigated, and officials said they found nothing to indicate that Mintline posed a danger to students, but he was reprimanded.

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