Teacher facing abuse charges

Woodlawn High girl says she had sex with coach

School places instructor on leave

March 21, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt and Jonathan D. Rockoff | Laura Barnhardt and Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

A Woodlawn High School teacher was arrested and charged yesterday with having a sexual relationship with a student who was on a soccer team he coached at the school, police said.

Benjamin Rapheal, 44, of the first block of Blackfoot Court in Middle River is facing two counts of child abuse and one count of perverted practice. He was being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $75,000 bail.

Police said the 16-year-old female student told them that her sexual relationship with Rapheal started in October after he drove her from a school activity to his house. From then until January, they had sex several times a week, according to police charging documents filed in District Court yesterday.

Once, the girl told police, they had sex in the office near his classroom, and he wrote her a hall pass to return to class afterward, according to the documents.

Principal C. Anthony Thompson said Rapheal told him "it didn't happen."

The allegations were a "complete shock," said Thompson, who described Rapheal as a well-regarded teacher who coached boys sports and worked with students after school.

"Until the police get finished doing their thing, I hope everybody shows restraint," Thompson said.

Rapheal has been placed on administrative leave with pay until the case is resolved, said Charles A. Herndon, a school system spokesman.

He has been employed by the district since August 2000, teaching technology education, such as computer programming and keyboarding, Herndon said.

Van Ross, president of the Woodlawn High PTSA, said she did not know Rapheal. But she said the arrest wouldn't help as Woodlawn tries to repair its reputation as a school with unruly students and low test scores. "That's the last thing we need. That will set us back," she said.

Police said the student told a school resource officer about her alleged relationship with Rapheal.

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