The former athletic director of Baltimore County's Carver Center for the Arts and Technology who admitted sexually abusing a 15-year-old female student was given a suspended jail term and four years of probation yesterday.
Stuart Price Tarlton, 36, of Finksburg, who was reassigned to a nonteaching position in April after he was charged, told Circuit Judge Robert E. Cadigan that he was pleading guilty because he is guilty.
Despite his guilty plea, 10 prominent character witnesses testified in the sentencing phase that followed that Tarlton is innocent, and the courtroom was filled with supporters.
A police-recorded telephone conversation between the girl and Tarlton made after she reported the fondling, kissing and touching to her parents was played in court.
A tearful Tarlton admitted on the tape that he abused the girl.
"It shouldn't have happened," he told her at one point. "I shouldn't have let it go beyond a normal friendship. It made me feel special, made me feel young -- like a kid. I just got caught up in that."
The girl's father told the judge that his daughter, who was a student in one of Tarlton's physical education classes, was forced to leave the Towson "school she loved" because students and other supporters of the athletic director believed he was innocent and blamed her for his suspension from teaching.
She will attend another school this fall.
Tarlton, a tall, athletic-looking man with glasses and a crew cut, sat with his head bowed through much of the hearing.
"I apologize from the bottom of my heart," he said. "I'm extremely remorseful and sorry."
Cadigan originally sentenced Tarlton to eight years in prison, but suspended the term in favor of four years of supervised probation, psychiatric counseling, a prohibition against any jobs involving supervision of children and mandatory annual registration as a sex offender with local police for 10 years.
Prosecutor John Cox had recommended that Tarlton, who is married and has a 6-year-old daughter, receive probation, saying the girl's family did not want him to go to prison.
The abuse occurred between December and March, culminating an incident in Tarlton's school office Feb. 26 when the teacher kissed the girl and sexually touched her, according to a statement of facts read in court.
She began acting strangely at home, the statement said, and eventually told her parents, who informed authorities.
Pub Date: 8/02/96