A harrowing case of serial child sex abuse allegedly involving a former middle school teacher and high school track coach has turned out to be worse than investigators initially thought, officials say.
According to WTOP-TV, authorities in Charles County, Md., are returning a 206-count indictment against Charles Deangelo Bell, a former teacher’s aide at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. The 30-year-old Bell is accused of sexually assaulting 42 students, ranging in age from 11 to 17, over the course of two years, between May 2015 and June 2017. According to authorities, Bell also recorded some of the assaults on his cellphone; included in the harrowing 206-count indictment against Bell are 97 counts of filming child pornography.
Bell is now accused of assaulting double the number of students listed in an earlier indictment from July.
The HIV-positive Bell is also being charged on five counts of attempting to transfer the virus. WTOP reports that not all of the victims have been tested, but the Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office says that as of now, it isn’t aware of any students who have tested positive for the virus. Fox 5 reports that Bell didn’t wear protection when assaulting his victims.
The charges lobbied against Bell are the result of months of a painstaking forensic investigation that involved combing through Bell’s cellphone and digital history. Bell was fired from his job as a middle school teacher’s aide in December of last year after authorities started investigating inappropriate text exchanges between Bell and a student. But as WTOP reports, a backlog at the Maryland State Police’s computer forensics lab kept authorities from discovering evidence of Bell’s assaults on his cellphone for several months, and an arrest wasn’t made until June of this year.
Tony Covington of the Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office told WTOP that the sheriff’s office is still trying to identify victims.
Bell is scheduled to stand trial in January; if the former educator is convicted, Covington says that he will seek a life sentence against the alleged sex abuser.