A Howard County teacher and lacrosse coach will serve two years in prison after pleading guilty to the sexual abuse of a student, the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.
Stephanie Walzl, 26, of Manchester, was arrested and charged in September with five counts of fourth-degree sex offense of a student at Reservoir High School in Fulton, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office. Howard County Circuit Court Judge Mary Kramer on Monday sentenced Walzl to five years, with all but two suspended. Walzl will serve her sentence at the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup.
In June 2020, Howard County police began investigating a report of an inappropriate relationship between Walzl and a student, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Through investigation, police said they uncovered evidence dating back to December 2019, including tens of thousands of text messages between Walzl and the student over a six-month period.
Evidence gathered indicated the two were in regular contact with each other before and after school and throughout the school day, the State’s Attorney’s Office said.
“Teachers and coaches have an influential role in the lives of young people and at no time, ever, should they use their position of authority to take advantage of a student entrusted to their care,” Howard County State’s Attorney Rich Gibson said in a news release. “This type of improper conduct will not be tolerated by our office, and offenders will be held accountable for their actions.”
According to the Howard County Public School System, Walzl is currently on unpaid administrative leave.
“We were aware of the arrest of one of our teachers and subsequent recent sentencing. Upon learning of these charges, this teacher was immediately placed on administrative leave, and [the school system] worked cooperatively with law enforcement and investigators throughout their process,” spokesperson Brian Bassett said in an email Wednesday.
“These inappropriate and illegal actions by an educator cause great concern as we take safety of our students seriously. As with all [school system] employees, she underwent a criminal background check, fingerprinting and a detailed reference check when she was hired.”
Bassett also said administrators and staff at Reservoir High provided support for students when Walzl was originally charged and will make that support available again following Walzl’s sentencing.
Walzl’s lawyer, listed in online court documents as Thomas C. Morrow, could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Upon release, Walzl will be on supervised probation for five years, must successfully complete sex offender treatment, may not have unsupervised contact with minors, have no contact with the student and must register as a sex offender.