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School principal facing charges in prostitution sting

March 02, 2001

School principal facing charges in prostitution sting



By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The principal of Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, Md., was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday, a day after he was charged with agreeing to pay an undercover policewoman $30 for sex in downtown Hagerstown.

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William Louis Van Hall, 45, of 2820 Grandview Drive in Middletown, Md., was charged with one count of solicitation for prostitution Wednesday at about 8:50 p.m., according to Hagerstown City Police.

He was released on personal recognizance.

Van Hall was one of four men charged during a reverse prostitution sting in the first block of Jonathan Street Wednesday night, Hagerstown City Police said.

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Van Hall's arrest came less than an hour after the Thomas Johnson Patriots defeated the North Hagerstown Hubs, 66-61, in a playoff game.

"This is a difficult situation to deal with," Frederick County Superintendent of Schools Jack Dale said Thursday. "But we are beginning to deal with it."

Dale said the paid administrative leave would continue pending the outcome of an investigation by his office.

"The charge is not a conviction," Dale said.

Van Hall is serving his first year as principal of Thomas Johnson, one of Frederick County's largest schools with about 1,600 students.

After 10 years as principal at Middletown Middle School, Van Hall left to take over Ballenger Creek Middle School in 1998.

He started his 22-year career in Frederick County schools as a physical education teacher, Dale said.

Calls to Van Hall's home were not returned.

In a reverse sting, policewomen posing as prostitutes are positioned in areas of Hagerstown where prostitution is a problem, police said.

According to court records, Van Hall was driving a Ford Explorer in the 100 block of Wareham Place off Jonathan Street when he encountered an undercover officer posing as a prostitute.

He asked her what she was doing and she said she was working, court records allege.

When he asked the policewoman if she wanted a date she asked if he meant a working date and he said yes, according to allegations in court records.

While discussing cost, he allegedly asked the officer how much she was going to pay him, court records allege.

"I said, 'wait a minute, you're supposed to pay me,'" court records quote the policewoman as replying.

He mentioned $30 and the officer agreed, court records alleged.

Also charged Wednesday night with solicitation for prostitution were Lewis Lynn Humberson, 45, of 518 Reynolds Ave.; Richard William Burker, 43, of 217 W. Washington St.; and Thomas K. Iden, 44, of 145 E. Main St. in Hancock.

All the arrests were made between 8 and 11 p.m., police said.

The maximum penalty for a conviction on a charge of solicitation for prostitution is one year in jail and/or a $500 fine.

All four men were taken before a Washington County bond commissioner and were released on personal recognizance.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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