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Former teacher faces sex charges

October 07, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN

pepperb@herald-mail.com

A former Boonsboro Middle School social studies teacher was arrested Thursday on rape and sex offense charges stemming from allegations he raped a 13-year-old girl and fondled three of her classmates at the school during the 1983-84 school year.

Robert Merle Haines Jr., 46, of 511 Dewey Drive in Annapolis, faces a charge of second-degree rape and four counts of third-degree sex offense, according to court documents.

Haines was 24 years old at the time of the alleged offenses. The four alleged victims were eighth-grade girls, documents state.

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Haines was brought before a Washington County District Court Commissioner Thursday afternoon and placed on a $30,000 unsecured bond, which he posted, Commissioner Timothy Haven said.

Haines has not decided whether he will have a preliminary hearing on the charges, Haven said.

According to charging documents, around March 9, 1984, Haines followed the 13-year-old girl into a school office, closed the door and raped her. Maryland State Police allege he fondled three other girls between Sept. 1, 1983, and June 30, 1984, documents state.

The allegations were not reported to police at the time. The alleged rape, "reported only as indecent exposure and inappropriate touching, resulted in an administrative investigation by the Washington County Board of Education," according to charging documents.

Maryland State Police obtained the School Board's administrative investigation through a search and seizure warrant, which Washington County Public Schools Public Information Officer Carol Mowen said Thursday was executed in either August or September.

Mowen said school officials did not immediately hand over the documents to police because, "We had to follow protocol. We had to follow appropriate measures ... Personnel records are, of course, considered confidential documents."

Mowen said she could not comment about what kept the alleged incidents from being reported to police at the time of the administrative investigation.

"We certainly will do our best to cooperate with the current investigation," she said.

Mowen said that current practice "is to report anything of this nature to (the Department of Social Services) and appropriate law enforcement agencies."

According to charging documents, the police investigation began in July 2005 when a retired teacher, with whom the alleged victim confided about the incident, called police. The alleged victim, now 35, called police the next day.

The alleged rape



A different retired Boonsboro Middle School teacher, Judy Schlotterbeck, told police she recalled the day of the alleged rape vividly. She heard the girl and another girl inside the office in the social studies area in a "hysterical" state, documents state.

When Schlotterbeck went to see what was going on, she saw Haines standing in front of the office door, which was closed, documents state. She told Haines she would speak with the girls, but he replied, "'No, they have to settle it among themselves,'" documents allege.

According to the alleged victim, Haines told her to get a book from the social studies office, documents state. She complied, and Haines followed her and closed the door, police allege in court documents.

He took the girl to the floor, "put his hand" over her mouth and began to rape her, police allege. When the girl said she "was going to scream," he got up, police allege. She ran out of the office and into the bathroom, documents state.

Later that evening or the following evening, Schlotterbeck got an anonymous phone call from someone who said Haines inappropriately touched a girl. Schlotterbeck called Roger Stenersen, the school's vice principal, and reported it.

Stenersen told Dan McElrath, the school's principal, and "a cursory investigation was initiated," police said in court documents.

Haines "was removed from the school and contact with the students," documents state. He "eventually resigned," police said.

McElrath and Stenersen interviewed the girls and completed the investigation into Haines' alleged behavior, according to court documents.

The girl told school officials at the time that "he just exposed himself and maybe touched my breast."

The alleged victim recently told police Haines began touching her in October 1983, but continued to fondle her until the alleged rape.

Three more charges



Through their investigation, police found three other girls who were allegedly inappropriately touched by Haines.

The second girl, whom allegedly was fondled by Haines, told police, "Mr. Haines was drawn to girls who were developed ... he would pick girls who would be receptive and not tell."

Haines took a third girl into a supply closet in the social studies area and allegedly touched her, documents state.

The third girl described Haines as "very charismatic. She told police she was "vulnerable," but there "was no force."

A fourth girl told police Haines touched her breasts and placed her hands on his private area throughout the school year. She described Haines as "kind of sly," according to charging documents.

Other girls were mentioned in the charging documents as having been allegedly touched by Haines, but charges were filed relating to only the four girls.

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