Youth admits assault charge

Former Calverton student, 13, put on indefinite probation in attack on staffer

June 19, 2008|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,sun reporter

A 13-year-old boy admitted yesterday attempting a fourth-degree sex offense against a Calverton Elementary/Middle staff member who was putting in extra hours at the West Baltimore school on a Sunday afternoon.

Master Zakia Mahasa put the boy, a former Calverton student whose name The Sun is withholding because he is a juvenile, on indefinite probation and ordered him to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation and to follow the evaluator's recommendations.

Mahasa also postponed a second case involving the May 4 break-in at the school, which immediately preceded the attack. If the 13-year-old follows his probation and completes 25 hours of community service, the second case would be dropped, Mahasa said.

Another boy who broke into the school, a 12-year-old, also admitted yesterday spraying the contents of a fire extinguisher over the school floor during the break-in. Donald Wright, his defense attorney, said yesterday that his client knew nothing about the attack on the staff member.

"He was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and associating with someone he shouldn't have been associating with," Wright said.

The case was one in a string of recent high-profile assaults on school staff members and renewed fears about violence in schools and teacher safety when working after-hours.

According to a statement of facts read in court by prosecutor Keri Smolka, the 13-year-old stood in a doorway about 3 p.m., watching the staff member work. The boy then began to ask questions: "How are you?" and "Are you married?"

The staff member responded, "Can I help you?" And then he attacked her, Smolka said.

"The suspect then grabbed the victim, who tried to fight back and get her cell phone to dial 911," Smolka said. "The suspect grabbed her by her legs, causing her to fall to the ground while still struggling. He went under the victim's skirt, trying to pull it up. She screamed for help and was able to access her phone to call 911."

Smolka said that once the boy realized the call had gone through, he stopped the assault and ran. Smolka also said the woman had pulled the teen's thumb back to get him off her.

During a preliminary hearing in May, prosecutor Alfred Guillaume also alleged that the boy had told the victim that he was "going to take that" or "take it" before assaulting her.

At that preliminary hearing, Master James P. Casey ordered the boy jailed, stating that if he was "bold enough to do that" to a staff member at school, "Why would anybody be safe? ... He's not a flight risk, but he's a danger. That's the problem."

Caught on video

Smolka said that surveillance video from the school showed the two boys in the building.

According to Wright, after the woman chased her assailant out of the school, she saw his client, the 12-year-old, outside and identified him. Both suspects were arrested when they came to school the next day.

Authorities interviewed the 12-year-old, and he identified the older boy, Smolka said.

"She saw [the 12-year-old] outside the school, outside the entire building," Wright said. "There's no indication he had any idea what was going on."

Yesterday, Mahasa sentenced the 12-year-old, who is going into seventh grade, to six months of probation, ordered him to complete 25 hours of community service and get a mentor.

The 13-year-old was expelled, according to a video recording of the preliminary hearing. In Maryland, because of his age, the boy will not have to register as a sex offender.

Father's support

His father said in court yesterday that he was there to support his son, who hugged his parents after being given probation.

The victim did not attend the proceedings. The Sun does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Smolka referred all questions about the reasons for the plea agreement to her supervisors. One was reached at an out-of-town conference yesterday and said she was unaware of the plea.

melissa.harris@baltsun.com

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