Mistrial declared for teacher accused of raping teen

January 12, 2007|BY A SUN REPORTER

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge declared a mistrial yesterday in the case of a private school teacher charged with raping a teenage student after a witness inappropriately indicated to the jury that other young girls had made similar allegations, city prosecutors said.

Circuit Judge Martin P. Welch ruled that the statements from Carolyn Seawell, an administrator at the Community Initiatives Academy, unfairly prejudiced jurors. The teacher, Charles Carroll, is being tried on charges he raped a girl when she was 13; he also faces trials on allegations that he sexually abused two other girls, ages 13 and 17.

"The state absolutely intends to retry these viable criminal charges," said Joe Sviatko, a spokesman for the city state's attorney's office. "We respect and understand Judge Welch's ruling in this matter."

Carroll was arrested in 2005. He had been teaching at the school despite having been convicted in 1995 of second-degree murder. Carroll had been released on parole in 2001 and was hired at the school less than a year later. Principal Christina V. Phillips Holtsclaw has said she hired Carroll because he needed a second chance.

The attorney for Carroll, Ed Smith, argued that the comments from Seawell, coupled with comments by two witness that alluded to the other cases, caused the jurors to become aware that other girls had made allegations against his client.

Welch had ruled that the other allegations could not be introduced at trial. Sviatko said that Seawell, a state witness, did not intentionally try to get the jurors to hear inadmissible evidence.

No date has been set for a new trial.

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