An employee of the Harford County public school system who works primarily with special needs students has been placed under suspension without pay following her indictment on a sex offense charge last month.
Stephanie Mikles, 45, of the 1500 block of North Bend Road in Jarrettsville, was indicted April 16 in Harford County Circuit Court on a charge of unnatural and perverted sex practice, according to court records.
The alleged crime, which involves an allegation of bestiality, occurred from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31, 2008, according to court documents. There is nothing in the court record that relates the charge to Mikles' employment with the county school system.
The allegations against Mikles weren't brought to the attention of police until sometime around Christmas or early this year, Harford County State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly said Thursday.
Following her indictment, Mikles was released on $5,000 bond. A court scheduling conference is scheduled on May 20. The penalty for a conviction of an unnatural or perverted sex practice is 10 years in prison, according to Cassilly.
Cassilly said he was uncertain how many times the alleged unnatural or perverted sex practice occurred, but because the indictment says it occurred over a period of time, "[that] to me says it's more than one instance."
Cassilly said a complaint was made and investigated and charges were filed. Investigators seized a number of video recordings of the alleged acts that "took a while to go through," he said.
"As a result of what they found, they placed the charges," he added.
Mikles is a behavioral specialist with Harford County Public Schools, according to Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications for the school system.
A behavioral specialist provides direct assistance to special education teachers who work with students with disabilities who are exhibiting significant behavioral needs, according to Kranefeld. A person serving in this capacity recommends and assists with implementing appropriate strategies for addressing behavioral issues. In addition, they provide staff development activities.
In late 2012, when the school system was notified Mikles was being investigated, she was placed in a non-instructional position at the central office, then put on administrative leave with pay on April 22 after her indictment. On May 1, she was put on administrative leave without pay, Kranefeld wrote in an e-mail.