UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (CN) - A Maryland elementary school choir director persuaded dozens of children to perform sexual acts on camera by telling them they were part of a "club," a mother claims in a class action.
Jane Doe No. 2 sued the Prince George's County Board of Education, elementary school principal Michelle Williams, and the alleged molester, teacher assistant Deonte Carraway, on Feb. 11 in Prince George's County Court.
A second mother, Jane Doe. No. 1, filed a similar complaint, which was not a class action.
Carraway, 22, was arrested on Feb. 6 and charged with 10 counts of felony child pornography and sexual abuse.
He worked for the Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Glenarden as a paid teacher's assistant from November 2014 to September 2015, then as an unpaid volunteer, according to the complaints.
According to the class action, "On multiple occasions, Carraway coerced John Doe No. 2 to engage in sexual acts with him on school property during school hours."
Carraway also made the boy "engage in sexual acts with him on multiple occasions at the Glenarden Municipal Center" at Friday night choir practice, the mother says.
Carraway scheduled meetings with and sent photos and videos to John Doe 2 through the smartphone app Kik, which allows people to send anonymous photos and messages, Doe's mother says.
Carraway's predations began in early 2015 went on until January this year, when another student's uncle "discovered that Carraway had been communicating with his nephew and other children on Kik," the complaint states. "The student's uncle saw that there were inappropriate pictures of students that were sent through Kik."
The uncle notified principal Williams on Feb. 4 this year and called police that night, according to the complaint. County police then found four SIM cards from Carraway's cellphone.
"On just one of the SIM cards, there were at least 44 recordings of sexual acts involving children," the complaint states.
It continues: "Upon information and belief, on some of the recordings, Carraway can be seen or heard directing the children to perform certain sexual acts.
"Upon information and belief, one of the recordings is of a child performing a sexual act on Carraway in a school bathroom while he recorded the act on his cellphone. ...
"(T)he obscene recordings on Carraway's phone range from 8-second clips to videos running over a minute."
So brazen was Carraway that he would call students out of class and tell them they "would be participating in a 'club' with him to help persuade them to engage in these sexual acts on camera," the complaint states.
His victims were as young as 9, and "the number of victims is at least 10, but it may be as many as 30," according to the complaint.
Doe's mom says that Carraway's sexual abuse was "common knowledge among the students."
She says that although parents and teachers "expressed concern" about Carraway's "predatory behavior," principal Williams took no action, claiming they had "no proof."
Doe blames the "complete absence of any supervision and oversight of his conduct."
Doe seeks class certification and damages for Title IX violations, other civil rights violations, violations of Maryland human rights law, negligent supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and battery.
She is represented by Timothy Maloney with Joseph, Greenwald & Laake in Greenbelt, who represents Jane Doe No. 1 in her lawsuit against the same defendants.
Attorney Maloney said the criminal and civil cases are just beginning.
"The shocking events at Sylvania Woods Elementary revealed a profound breach of trust," Maloney said in an email Sunday.
Almost all of the nearly 700 students at Sylvania Woods are black and Latino and/or qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, according to The Washington Post.
Authorities have identified 17 victims so far, 9 to 13 years old, according to the Post.
Principal Williams is on paid leave, and Carraway is being held on a $1 million bond.
It is far from unusual in complaints such as this for parents to claim that school administrators knew of or had reason to know of a teacher's abuse, but failed to take action.
"Ruining someone's career can be actionable," one attorney with knowledge of such cases told Courthouse News. "Failing to ruin someone's career is less actionable."
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