A former Harford County teacher charged with soliciting and human trafficking allegedly paid a 14-year-old student for pictures of her feet, according to court documents.
Jaron Anthonee Darden, 25, of Aberdeen, is charged with soliciting prostitution, sexual solicitation of a minor and three counts of human trafficking, according to online court records.
According to documents filed in Harford County District Court, Darden reached out to a student at Edgewood Middle School — where he taught vocal music — on Instagram around the beginning of May 2019. The juvenile did not know it was Darden, at first.
Court documents state that Darden asked for a picture of the girl’s feet; she took it on the school bus. He did not pay her for that first picture, but he paid her $20 over an online payment app the next time she sent him a picture. Detectives saw the pictures.
Darden told the girl her pictures had garnered fans on his Instagram account, the documents state, and told her about another Instagram page where she could post pictures of her breasts. He said he could refer her.
“He then told her that she could get good ‘promo’ and make a little money,” according to the documents. “Darden then sent her the page he was talking about, and told her that the page just changed management and it’s a ‘good move’ for her.”
The two stopped messaging on May 17, 2019, according to the documents, but shortly after the conversation, Darden drove the juvenile and other girls to his house in Edgewood where he paid each of them $20 to take pictures of their feet.
The only other contact the juvenile had with Darden was when he offered $40 or $60 for her to perform a sex act, the documents state. He paid her a $25 down payment for the act; she took the money and blocked him.
On August 8, 2019, the girl reached out to police, and on the same day an investigator posing as the girl sent Darden a few direct messages, but control of the account was given back to the juvenile after the investigator posing as her received few replies from Darden, the documents state.
After seeing the messages the girl and Darden exchanged, the detective posing as the juvenile contacted him. During the conversation, Darden messaged the girl to arrange a paid video call. The detective, still impersonating the juvenile, asked what would happen, and Darden asked if he can pleasure himself on a FaceTime call with her, the documents state.
Darden then tried to call him and asked the girl to delete their messages. Over the next few days Darden said he was concerned at being unable to video chat or speak to her on the phone, court documents state.
“Darden said he no longer felt comfortable messaging with [the juvenile] and the communication ended,” the documents state.
After that, assistant state’s attorney Dair Pillai requested Darden be charged with solicitation of prostitution, the documents state.
Harford County Public Schools spokesperson Jillian Lader said Darden was hired at Edgewood Middle School Aug. 24, 2017, and placed on paid leave on Aug. 22, 2019. On Sept. 25, 2019, he was placed on unpaid leave and then terminated the same day.
Darden was released Tuesday on a $5,000 bond. He has been ordered to not engage in criminal activity, to stay away from the girl and keep an updated address with the court.
Darden’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment in time for the publication of this article.