A 51-year-old JROTC instructor at a Howard County high school has been charged with having sex with a 17-year-old female student in a school supply closet, authorities said.
Police say Sgt. Charles Ray Moore of Bowie had sex twice with the senior member of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Atholton High School in Columbia over a two-day period earlier this month.
Moore, of the 3100 block of Aventine Lane, was charged Monday with sexual child abuse and sexual child abuse by a person in a position of authority, Howard County police said. He was released from the Howard County Detention Center after positing a $7,500 unsecured bond.
According to charging documents, the victim told police that Moore instructed her to enter a supply closet in the JROTC classroom on May 13 and that he kissed and fondled her. They returned to the supply closet on the following day and had sexual intercourse, according to the documents.
The victim told her mother about the incidents on May 17, police said. The mother contacted police, who opened an investigation.
The victim told police that she had developed a personal relationship with Moore and sent text messages to his personal cell phone and instant messages to his Facebook account, police said.
The victim said that Moore had suggested to her that "we should get a hotel room sometime before or after you graduate," police said. He also wrote to her, "I have feelings for you and it is OK if you have feelings for me … you can't help who you have feelings for."
Police went to the high school on May 21 and used a black flourescent light to find evidence of semen in the closet and a palm print belonging to the victim.
A telephone message left for Moore on Tuesday was not returned.
Atholton Principal Marcia L. Leonard told parents of the arrest in a message e-mailed on Tuesday. She said the school psychologist, school nurse, pupil personnel worker and counselors would be available on Wednesday to support students and staff.
"We want to assure you the safety and well-being of our students is of utmost priority," Leonard wrote, and encouraged students to report any wrongdoing they suspect. "It is the collective responsibility of students, parents, and staff to ensure that we teach and learn in a safe and supportive environment."
Leonard said Moore is now on leave.
JROTC instructors are employed jointly by the school district and the military, but are certified by the military and not the individual school system where they work, a Howard County schools spokeswoman said. JROTC instructors typically are retired military personnel who teach classes as well as oversee the extracurricular program.
Moore was one of three instructors working with 160 students involved in the JROTC program at Atholton, schools spokeswoman Patti Caplan said. He had been at the school for five years.
Caplan said the arrest would not impact the program, which she said has been offered at Atholton for more than 25 years.
"This is one situation," she said. "It would not be appropriate to make a judgment based on one individual. I think the program has been very positive."
In January, a 43-year-old JROTC instructor in Prince George's County was sentenced to a year in prison for having sex with a 16-year-old student at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale, according to media reports.
In separate incidents last year, two JROTC instructors at Seaford High School in Delaware were charged with sexually assaulting students. One of the incidents allegedly occurred on land owned by the state of Maryland in the Eastern Shore town of Rhodesdale.
Messages left for a JROTC spokesman on Tuesday were not returned.