Baltimore School Police officer charged with felony child abuse

A Baltimore School Police officer, who used to be a driver for city schools CEO Sonja Santelises, is on administrative leave after city authorities arrested him Saturday on a felony child abuse charge.

Gerard Owens, 48, is charged with one count of second-degree child abuse and one count of second-degree assault after allegedly choking a child he lives with, according to court documents. Owens has worked as a Baltimore City Schools resource officer since 2002, and spent five years in the executive protection detail, according to public salary records and a school system spokesperson.


Owens will remain on leave, with pay, until Baltimore Police finish the criminal investigation into him, according to spokesperson Sherry Christian. Owens does not have an attorney listed in online court records.

According to the charging documents in Owens’ case, he has previously yelled and cursed at the child and his wife, and has threatened to knock the child’s head off. Second-degree child abuse is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, according to Maryland law.


Owens was also charged with second-degree assault in 2021, but court records in that case are unavailable, likely meaning he was either found innocent or the charges were dropped.

Owens’ arrest is one of several run-ins the Baltimore School Police officers have had with other law enforcement agencies this year. Earlier this summer, an officer was part of a group arrested in Anne Arundel County for allegedly stealing more than 750 gallons of diesel fuel. Those charges were ultimately dismissed.

In August, Dunbar High School football coach and Baltimore School Police detective Lawrence Smith was the subject of an FBI raid at city school headquarters, with federal agents seeking his payroll records as part of a probe into overtime pay. Smith has not been charged with a crime.

Also in August, four school police officers were placed on desk duty after being witness to a fatal shooting in Northeast Baltimore.

School police have their own department, union and contract within the city school system through a memorandum of understanding with the Baltimore Police Department.