A former teacher at the Annapolis Area Christian School pleaded guilty yesterday to sexually abusing a sixth-grader at the school, one of four students he was charged with abusing.
Mark A. Nichols, 29, formerly of Gambrills, admitted to Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. that he repeatedly fondled a 12-year-old boy between September 1988 and January 1990.
It was the second time Nichols had appeared before a Circuit Court judge on sexual child abuse charges, but the first time he had admitted to them.
Nichols is serving 18 months in the county jail based on his conviction by a jury of sexually abusing another student at the school.
As part of the earlier sentence, Judge Eugene M. Lerner also ordered Nichols to serve five years' supervised probation, not to have any unsupervised contact with children, not to work in education again, to perform 150 hours of community service and to complete any therapy recommended by state Parole and Probation officials.
When sentenced by Judge Lerner March 5, Nichols stopped short of admitting guilt, saying only that he must have "done something wrong" for the jury to convict him.
Nichols declined to comment yesterday, in the courtroom or afterward.
But he agreed to plead guilty to the the second sexual child abuse charge on condition that any jail term be made concurrent with the 18-month term he is currently serving.
Assistant State's Attorney Robert Bittman said that in exchange for the plea, charges of molesting two other boys at the school were dropped.
Mr. Bittman said yesterday's case, along with two of the three others, involved touching of the genital areas while the victims were fully clothed.
In yesterday's case, the abuse occurred once or twice at the school and five to 10 times in a car on trips to see the Baltimore Orioles, Mr. Bittman said.
He said Nichols often would talk to the students about the Bible while he was molesting them.
The victims, who were not in court yesterday, agreed to drop the remaining charges as long as Nichols acknowledged his problem, which Mr. Bittman said is a necessary first step in any therapy.
"The main thing that everyone was concerned about was that he get help," the prosecutor said.