A special education teacher at Atholton High School in Columbia was arrested Wednesday by Baltimore County police on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography. He has been placed on administrative leave from the school, according to Howard County Public School System Superintendent Michael Martirano.
Lawrence Costella, 32, of Reisterstown, was denied bail during a hearing Thursday afternoon in Towson, according to Detective Trae A. Corbin of the Baltimore County Police Department.
Stephen R. Tully of Towson was listed as Costella’s attorney for the hearing. Tully’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Detectives from the Baltimore County Crimes Against Children’s Unit said Thursday that they “do not suspect Costella had any inappropriate contact with minors.”
Costella worked as a special education teacher in Baltimore County Public Schools beginning in 2015, according to Gboyinde Onijala, a spokesperson for the county schools. He resigned from Baltimore County schools in 2021, the same year he began teaching in Howard County.
Costella began his second year working at Atholton in August, according to an email sent to the school community by Principal Robert Motley.
“Please be assured that prior to being hired by the Howard County Public School System, (Costella) underwent a criminal background check and fingerprinting, as is the process for any new hire,” Motley wrote.
Both Motley and Martirano, in separate emails to the Howard County public schools community, said Costella was placed on administrative leave immediately following the announcement of charges and is not permitted on school property pending the outcome of the investigation and criminal case.
“Our parents entrust us to keep our children safe, and that responsibility is our top priority,” Martirano wrote. “Though it’s important to allow the legal process to play out, I am extremely disturbed as a result of learning of these charges.”
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Martirano stated that every Howard County public school has counselors available to talk to students and that student services teams are prepared to support students and families as needed. The school system’s website also contains tips for talking with students about sexual abuse and traumatic events.
“We all must empower children to speak up when something seems unsafe or doesn’t feel right,” Martirano said.
Anyone with more information about the case can reach Baltimore County police at 410-887-2222.