St. Frances coach arrested on assault, burglary charges

October 08, 2008|By STEPHEN KIEHL AND KATHERINE DUNN | STEPHEN KIEHL AND KATHERINE DUNN,stephen.kiehl@baltsun.com and katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

The head coach of the St. Frances Academy boys basketball team - a former star player at the school - was in jail yesterday after being served with two outstanding warrants last week, according to court records and school officials.

Mark Karcher, 29, was arrested on two second-degree assault charges and third- and fourth-degree burglary charges stemming from two incidents, one in May and the other in fall 2006, records show.

This is Karcher's first year as head coach of the St. Frances team after serving for several years as an assistant under coach William Wells. While a student at St. Frances, Karcher was The Sun's All-Metro Player of the Year in 1996 and 1997, averaging 28.7 points a game during his senior year.

Sister John Francis Schilling, president of St. Frances Academy, said she has been in touch with Karcher since his arrest and expected him to be released from jail by today. The warrants were served Sept. 30, according to court records. Bail was set last week at $95,000.

"We think it will all be cleared up," Sister John Francis said. "It's just an unfortunate thing. It's too bad when you're a high-profile person everything becomes public, but that's part of being successful."

Sister John Francis said she expects Karcher to return to the East Baltimore school, where he is a full-time employee, and said he is still the Panthers' basketball coach.

Wells declined to comment.

Karcher was charged with second-degree assault Nov. 23, 2006, and with second-degree assault, third-degree burglary and fourth-degree burglary May 31. The assault charges and fourth-degree burglary are misdemeanors; third-degree burglary is a felony.

Police and court officials could not provide details on the incidents yesterday. Nor could police say why it took so long to serve the warrants on someone who is well known in the community. His trial dates are Oct. 27 and Oct. 30 at the Eastside District Courthouse, and both are scheduled in the room that handles the court's domestic violence docket.

After graduating from St. Frances, Karcher attended Temple University, where he led the team in scoring as a sophomore and junior. He was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the 2000 NBA draft (48th pick overall) but did not play in the NBA. He played professionally in France.

Karcher has had run-ins with the law. In 2000, he was charged by Baltimore County police with three counts of first-degree assault and resisting arrest in an incident outside a Rosedale nightclub. Those charges were dropped by county prosecutors.

Coaches and faculty members at St. Frances - of which Karcher is both - are fully vetted through the Archdiocese of Baltimore's "STAND for the Protection of Children and Youth" process. According to the Archdiocese's Web site, the process includes an interview, reference checks, fingerprint check and criminal history screening.

Karcher went through all that, said Sister John Francis, who has known Karcher since he was a 14-year-old freshman at St. Frances. She said she knew of the charges from 2000 that were dropped.

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