Nine months after police charged him with having sex with one of his students, Charles Ray Moore walked out of Howard County Circuit Court on Tuesday with hopes of resuming his teaching career.
Charges against the former Atholton High School JROTC instructor were dropped after prosecutors said they had no plan to retry Moore after a November mistrial on charges of fourth-degree sex offense and having sex with a minor student in his authority.
Despite his ordeal, Moore is adamant that he wants to return to Atholton and to the JROTC program there.
Moore said he "would have no problem going back to Atholton because I know what I did, and I haven't done anything. I should be able to go back to that same school and still make a difference."
A strong faith and the unwavering support of his family and friends — along with a steadfast belief in his own innocence — helped him persevere after he was charged, Moore said. He spent the past nine months "in prayer," he said, and occasionally wondering what might happen if he were to be convicted of a crime he says he didn't commit.
"It was pretty trying … it may have crossed my mind once or twice 'What if','" Moore said Tuesday in an interview in his attorney's office. "But I had to get my mind back focused 100 percent — and then some — in the Lord that he would see me through this."
Now he's focused on returning to a job he considers to be a calling.
In May, Moore was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old former Atholton student who told police that Moore had taken her into a storage closet on consecutive days, kissing and fondling her and eventually having sex with her.
During a trial, which ended in a hung jury, it was revealed that Moore's accuser had changed her story, and that handprints belonging to the young woman and traces of semen that did not match Moore's DNA were found by police technicians in the storage room.
Because of the inconsistencies in her testimony, and because no physical evidence tied to Moore was found in the closet, State's Attorney Dario J. Broccolino said last week that he would not re-try the case.
Wayne Kirwan, a spokesman for Broccolino, said Tuesday that Moore's accuser, now 18 and a student at Howard Community College, "concurred" with the decision to drop the charges against Moore.
Neither Moore's accuser nor her mother, who testified at Moore's trial, could be reached for comment.
It is not clear whether Moore will be allowed to return to Atholton, which serves as a magnet program for JROTC throughout the county. Moore, who was suspended without pay at the time of his arrest, would have to be reinstated by the superintendent of Howard County schools.
A spokeswoman for the school system could not be reached for comment.
Geoffrey Easterling, a former JROTC student of Moore's at Atholton who now attends West Point, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he was neither surprised by the charges being dropped nor that Moore would like to return to his former school.
"Prior to [the charges], everything about Sergeant Moore at Atholton had been positive," said Easterling, one of three former Atholton students who attend the U.S. Military Academy. "He was there for four years and put six kids into the major service academies, and two of them are the highest-ranking kid in their brigade."
Moore said that he plans to change the way he deals with students in the future. Specifically, he will never again give his home telephone number or cell phone number to students, as he used to.
"How many kids that really need assistance or help will lose out because I can't do that because of the allegations that were brought up against me?" Moore said.
Moore said that he is "mentally ready" to resume his career, ending the interview by saying, "I need to go on with my life now."