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Teacher arrested in sexual assault


A 36-year-old Swansfield Elementary School music teacher has been arrested and charged with child abuse and sexual assault of a 15-year-old who was once in his Boy Scout troop.

Craig Alan Smith of the 7900 block of Brightmeadow Court in Ellicott City was arrested Wednesday by Howard County police. Charging documents said he told police that he fondled and performed a sex act on the Columbia youth at his home on July 31.

Mr. Smith, a 10-year Howard County teacher, is charged with child abuse, third- and fourth-degree sex offenses, a perverted practice, and battery. He was released Wednesday from the county Detention Center on $25,000 bond.

A woman who answered the phone at Mr. Smith's home yesterday said he would have no comment and hung up.

Members of the Swansfield Parent-Teachers Association were told about the incident Thursday. Letters were sent home with students on Friday, informing parents that the teacher had been placed on administrative leave indefinitely, without revealing details.

"The Swansfield community is extremely concerned . . . extremely disturbed," said Janet Oken, vice president of the Swansfield PTA.

Mr. Smith began teaching in 1985 at Elkridge Elementary and transferred in 1986 to Swansfield in Columbia's Harper's Choice village.

Police and school system officials said they had not received any other abuse allegations involving Mr. Smith.

Patti Caplan, a spokeswoman for the county schools, said it is against school policy to comment on investigations of employees. When teachers are accused of crimes involving children, they are placed on administrative leave or in another job away from children until the case is resolved, she said.

"The main thing is, they are removed from contact with kids immediately," she said.

Mr. Smith met the youth four years ago, while a Boy Scout leader, according to court records.

Mr. Smith stopped working as a volunteer Boy Scout troop leader but continued to see the youth, said Sgt. Steve Keller, a police spokesman. He said he did not know when Mr. Smith stopped volunteering with the Boy Scouts.

On July 30, Mr. Smith asked the youth's mother if she would allow her son to stay with him for several days, court documents say. The woman agreed. The youth said he was sexually assaulted between midnight and 4 a.m. on July 31.

The youth reported the incident to police Sept. 5, and Mr. Smith was arrested the next day.

No reason was given for the delay between the alleged incident and the filing of the complaint.

Dick Behrens, a spokesman for the Baltimore-area office of the Boys Scouts of America, said he was unaware of the allegation and would not comment about how long Mr. Smith had been a troop leader or whether there were other complaints against him, citing confidentiality of records of volunteers.

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