A former Maryland middle school aide was sentenced to 105 years in prison on federal child-pornography charges.
Back in January, Carlos DeAngelo Bell, who was also a high school track coach, pleaded guilty to coercing children to engage in sexually explicit conduct in order to produce the pornography from 2014 to 2016, the Washington Post reports. The case involved 10 minors.
During earlier proceedings, Bell also pleaded guilty to the attempted transmission of HIV and other child sex-abuse charges. The mother of one of Bell’s victims detailed in a letter to the court that she takes her son every six months to be tested for the virus, as well as other sexually transmitted diseases, and how she has watched her child’s grades suffer as he becomes withdrawn and in need of psychiatric care.
Sentencing judge Paul W. Grimm told Bell that his crimes meant that the children would face a lifetime of consequences “from someone they had every right to trust.”
“That is really a betrayal, sir,” the judge added.
Bell used to work at La Plata High School and Maurice J. McDonough High School as a track coach, and he also did work with J.P. Ryon Elementary School and Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. The investigation into Bell began in December 2016 when a high school student’s parent became concerned about electronic messages from Bell to her child.
Once Bell’s HIV status was confirmed, parents were further alarmed. Investigators, however, say that they do not believe that any of the victims were infected.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Hagan also explained in the federal court that in addition to sexual abuse, some of Bell’s victims were physically assaulted in “ritualistic” incidents that mirror gang initiations.
“He broke them. He was emotionless,” Hagan said in court. “These beatings will stay with the people that suffered them.”
Prosecutors asked the judge to issue a 150-year sentence, adding that the victims should not “have to look over their shoulders again.”
However, Bell’s defense attorneys asked for a 30-year term, with attorney James E. Crawford Jr. noting that while his client’s actions warranted prison time, they stemmed from the abuse that he himself suffered as a child and a teen.
From the Post:
Crawford said Bell began watching heterosexual pornography when he was 7 and homosexual pornography by age 10, which led to confusion over his sexual identity. He later went into online chat rooms where he met men who would come to his home and abuse him through his teenage years, Crawford said.
“In many ways, his actions are a mirror for what he went through,” Crawford told the judge. “He’s a human being. He’s an individual. He doesn’t deserve to be thrown away.”
Bell’s parents spoke in court and told the judge they believed their son suffered from their divorce and what they described as his father’s drug abuse when Bell was a child. They said they believed he could be rehabilitated.
Bell spoke to the court before his sentencing, telling the judge that his own abuse affected him.
“I didn’t love myself as a child. I thought it was impossible to change who I was,” Bell said. “I am extremely, extremely sorry for all my transgressions in this manner.”
The judge recommended that Bell is imprisoned in a federal facility in New Jersey where he can receive treatment.