A jury acquitted a former South River High School biology teacher Thursday of charges that she had sex with a student.
Meredith Susan Barry Martin, 39, was found not guilty of five counts of having intercourse while in a position of authority, five counts of sexual offense by a person in authority, one count of unnatural or perverted practice and sex abuse of a minor. The jury deliberated less than two hours at Anne Arundel County Circuit Court before returning its verdict.
Thomas Morrow, Martin’s attorney, said in his closing statements to the jury that he knew prosecutors would try to discredit his client’s credibility. Morrow said the student who made the allegations lied years ago while under oath in court.
“My job is to try and test a witness’ credibility, recollection and establish they aren’t telling the truth,” Morrow said. “I was able to establish the student wasn’t telling the truth.”
The lawyer claimed every witness who testified on Martin’s behalf said she was a “caring teacher.”
Martin, a Davidsonville resident, was charged in February 2020 after a student submitted a written statement to the Anne Arundel County school board claiming they several sexual encounters in the Davidsonville and Edgewater area.
Martin’s attorney said she drove the student home was out of compassion because it was a cold day. She also let him drive her car once to help teach him how to drive.
Morrow said the protection was building a case to ruin his client’s life and there was never any inappropriate sexual contact between the two.
Prosecutors Maria Stamidis and Katherine Smeltzer, both assistant state attorneys, argued in their closing statements that Martin abused her power as a teacher.
“This is not a situation he could enter into willingly and he had to confront a trusted person, who was once his favorite teacher,” Stamidis said.
Stamidis said the student originally said nothing happened because that was something he and Martin agreed on. A year later, he admitted what happened.
Stamidis told the jury that Martin prepared for the case so much that she knew the answers to her attorney’s questions before he asked them.
“She is a teacher, she is used to educating and she was trying to educate the courts on how great she is,” Stamidis said.
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Prosecutors said the student had nothing to gain from lying, that he came to tell the truth and he didn’t make up a story. The student told police he had sex with Martin three or four times between November and December 2018 while she was his biology teacher. The student was 16 at the time.
Martin worked in Anne Arundel County Public Schools from 2007 to 2019, teaching special education and science at Chesapeake High School from 2007 to 2012 and then as a science teacher at South River High School. She has not been employed by Anne Arundel County Public Schools since July 2019.
Neither Martin nor her attorney could be reached for comment after the verdict.
When the charges were first announced, county schools Superintendent George Arlotto said he was disgusted the allegations. County school officials notified parents in an email that included a police news release on the charges, including her booking photo.
Friday, a schools spokesperson said Martin could be considered for reemployment now that Martin has been acquitted.
“Our position in the case involving Ms. Martin has not changed. As Dr. Arlotto made clear when Ms. Martin was charged, the legal matters needed to be settled first before any further decisions on her future employment with Anne Arundel County Public Schools would be made,” spokesperson Bob Mosier wrote in an email. “Now that the legal process has concluded, our school system’s process will resume.”