ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (AP) — A former Maryland School for the Deaf dormitory aide charged with molesting seven middle-school girls from 2008 to 2011 first raised suspicion when supervisors learned he had sent text messages to some of the students, school officials testified Thursday at his trial.
The first evidence of texting, reported by a worker who saw it on Clarence Taylor III’s cell phone, prompted a written warning, said Jennifer Ortiz, assistant superintendent and principal of the school’s Columbia campus. Several weeks later, another girl’s mother provided evidence that Taylor had texted her daughter, Ortiz said.
Ortiz said Taylor first denied texting a second student but eventually acknowledged he had violated the terms of his Personal Improvement Plan.
“The PIP specifically told him not to text any girls and he still did,” Ortiz said.
The contents of the messages were not disclosed in court. The school has since implemented a written policy prohibiting staff from texting students, officials said.
The disclosures in June and July 2011 led to Taylor’s reassignment as a first-grade teacher’s aide, Ortiz said. She said she placed him on administrative leave in November 2012 after a student told a staff member Taylor had touched her improperly.
The resulting investigation led to charges Taylor had touched the buttocks or breasts of seven girls, kissed some of them and asked three for revealing pictures of themselves.
Taylor has denied all charges. He has acknowledged touching some of the girls’ private parts but said it was accidental contact in a crowded hallway.
Richard Ballard, former assistant principal in Columbia, said he was demoted after Taylor’s arrest and reassigned as a teacher at the institution’s high school in Frederick.
Ortiz was the last prosecution witness before the state rested Thursday. Howard County Circuit Judge William Tucker gave Taylor until Friday to decide whether to testify.
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