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Crime

Former Baltimore Police officer accused of sexually abusing children at day care is held without bond; investigation ongoing

The former police officer accused of sexually abusing children at his wife’s day care center in Owings Mills was ordered held without bond Tuesday afternoon by a Baltimore County District Court judge.

Judge Susan Zellweger said no combination of conditions could adequately protect the community from the danger posed by James S. Weems Jr., 57, including to the children who are in the process of being interviewed or who have not yet been identified by police.

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Weems appeared remotely, wearing an orange shirt and white mask and using a walker. He appeared emotional during the court proceeding, putting his head down on his hands while his defense attorney spoke.

The former Baltimore Police officer, who retired in 2005, faces more than a dozen criminal charges, including second-degree assault and showing obscene material to a minor.

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Assistant State’s Attorney Everett Bryant said in the hearing that the lead detective on the case had informed him there were 93 children at the day care who overlapped with when Weems was there. Bryant said they expect a “broad” investigation and are in the process of interviewing additional children, as well as obtaining security footage and encrypted files on electronic devices.

Bryant called Weems a “public safety risk of the highest order.”

An attorney for Weems from the public defender’s office told the judge that Weems has no prior criminal record, has family in the area and is unable to walk due to a gunshot wound. Despite the “objectionable, serious charges,” Weems deserves his day in court, the attorney said.

The judge, however, ordered Weems to be held without bond. According to a bail review summary, Weems also was ordered to have no contact with victims or the state’s witnesses.

Charging documents filed in the criminal case indicate that the Baltimore County Police investigation into Weems began July 3, about three weeks before the agency obtained an arrest warrant for him, when a family contacted police after they found their child watching pornographic videos that they said “Mr. James” showed them. Two other victims were subsequently identified.

The allegations of sexual abuse surfaced publicly after Weems’ wife, Shanteari Weems, 50, was arrested for her husband’s shooting at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington, D.C, on July 21. According to charging documents, she accused him of abusing children at her day care, Lil Kidz Kastle.

Weems worked at the day care for about four years, according to police. He’d driven the day care’s van for about two. A warrant was issued July 25 for Weems’ arrest while he was hospitalized in Washington, D.C., Baltimore County Police said.

Shanteari Weems has been charged in D.C. with assault with intent to kill and assault with a dangerous weapon. On Friday, a D.C. Superior Court judge ordered her continued detention. An attorney representing her has said the shooting was a “split-second decision” made when her husband came toward her. She also reportedly told police she didn’t intend to kill him.

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The first child whom police identified, the one who was found watching pornographic videos, reportedly told a relative that sexual abuse from “Mr. James” had occurred on the playground and a day care bus.

In a subsequent interview with the Department of Social Services, the child said Weems had showed them inappropriate videos on his cellphone, according to charging documents. But according to charging documents, the child didn’t describe any sexual contact, saying “Mr. James” had instructed they not tell anyone.

Following the initial police dispatch on July 3, police obtained a search warrant on July 11 for Weems’ cellphone. It was executed a week later on July 18, three days before his wife allegedly shot him in D.C. On the phone, police found the website described by the child in his browsing history.

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The social services staff conducted additional interviews and identified another possible victim July 21, the day after state officials shut down the day care center. That child said a male day care employee had touched them under their clothes, but the male employee said the child would “get in trouble” if they told.

A third child was identified July 23. Parents for the child said a person at Kidz Kastle had molested the child, exposed himself, made the child touch him and asked for explicit photos of the child. In an interview with investigators two days later, the child reportedly said “Mr. James” had touched them in a “very inappropriate way.”

Weems is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 26.

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Baltimore Police said Weems retired as a detective from the department in 2005. He continued working there as a contract specialist, handling “administrative duties” until 2008, the agency said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Cassidy Jensen contributed to this article.


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