Convict loses parole but regains his freedom

The Baltimore Sun

Charles Carroll, a convicted murderer who more recently faced charges of sexually assaulting students, will be released from prison this month despite having his parole revoked at a hearing yesterday.

That is because Carroll, 31, had been trouble-free between his 2001 release on the murder conviction and his 2005 arrest on the assault charges, time for which he received credit from a parole commissioner yesterday.

Carroll, 31, was a teacher at a private Christian school in East Baltimore until a 13-year-old accused him of raping her in a classroom. Two other students also said he sexually assaulted them.

Carroll pleaded not guilty and has maintained his innocence. He has been behind bars since May 2005, awaiting first his trials and then his parole hearing.

His defense attorney, Edward Smith Jr., could not be reached yesterday afternoon.

In August, a city jury acquitted Carroll of the rape charge, and prosecutors then dropped the other two cases, saying they were weaker. All three cases hinged on the testimony of the girls.

Despite those outcomes, prosecutors had planned to present evidence at a probation violation hearing, which requires a lower standard of proof than criminal cases do.

Probation is a period of supervision ordered by a judge. Parole is a period of supervision imposed by a parole commissioner when a prisoner is released early.

A person who violates probation can be made to serve not just the remaining portion of his sentence, but also the portion that the judge originally suspended. In Carroll's case, that meant an extra 15 years.

Carroll was convicted of second-degree murder after he pleaded guilty in 1995 to shooting a 23-year-old man with whom he had been fighting in the Pen Lucy neighborhood.

The principal of the private school, the Community Initiatives Academy, said she hired Carroll knowing that he was a convicted murderer. Parents were outraged when they learned of his background, after the sexual assault charges came to light.

Prosecutors abandoned their plan to pursue a probation violation when the 13-year-old's mother balked at the girl's testifying again, said Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office.

"This is a satisfactory outcome," Burns said yesterday of the parole revocation and Carroll's impending release. "He has been incarcerated for a number of years."

Yesterday morning, parole commissioner Joseph Bolesta ordered a revocation on grounds that Carroll was a danger to himself or others, said Elizabeth Bartholomew, a spokeswoman for the Division of Parole and Probation.

Bolesta also decided to give Carroll "good time credits" for his three years on the streets, including the period teaching at the private school.

Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which oversees parole and probation, said the commissioner could not "hold it against" Carroll that he had faced new criminal charges, since he was never convicted.

Once he is released, Carroll will resume being supervised by parole agents, Vernarelli said. That supervision is set to extend until 2016, he said.

julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com

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