GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — The 22-year-old volunteer school aide with the blond streak in his Afro told students at a suburban Maryland elementary school that they were part of a special club. According to prosecutors, Deonte Carraway pulled kids out of classrooms in the middle of the day and made smartphone videos of them having sex with him and each other on school property.
Carraway is facing child pornography charges that could put him in prison for the rest of his life, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said at a news conference Tuesday. The charges mark the latest development in a sex-abuse scandal that has shaken parents’ faith in Prince George’s County school administrators.
According to police, Carraway is known to have victimized at least 17 children, ranging in age from 9 to 13. In addition to Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Glenarden, where he stocked shelves in the library and directed an unofficial school choir, he also abused children at a church, a pool, a community center and several homes, Prince George’s County police have said.
Two lawsuits, including a class-action complaint, have already been filed against the school system. According to the complaints, the school’s principal, Michelle Williams — who was placed on leave after Carraway’s arrest earlier this month — didn’t follow up on reports by parents and teachers of predatory behavior by Carraway. When a relative showed an explicit video to Williams, she didn’t call police, instead telling the relative to return to the school the next day, the lawsuits say.
The relative called police on his own, and Carraway was quickly arrested. Williams hung up when a reporter from The Associated Press reached her by phone on Tuesday.
Carraway, whose public defender declined to comment on Tuesday, admitted to investigators that he made the videos and told the kids they were part of a club he called “AKA,” according to court documents.
“I know it was wrong. I’m a bad person. I’m no child of God for doing this,” Carraway told investigators. “... I know I’m older and I knew it was wrong because kids don’t know better and I just lost it and now it don’t look good on my part.”
Prosecutors said Carraway communicated with his victims and shared the videos on Kik, a messaging app that allows users to hide their identities, and gave the victims usernames for the app. One of Carraway’s cellphones was found at the home of a victim, the documents said.
In one instance, Carraway asked a 9-year-old boy to take off his pants, and when the boy refused, Carraway threatened to contact the principal and police, prosecutors said. He then ordered another child to have sex with the boy and recorded the act on his phone, prosecutors said.
“I think that illustrates the evil, really, that we see in these sort of cases,” Rosenstein said.
Carraway was charged with eight counts of producing child pornography, each of which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison if a defendant is convicted. He was also indicted Tuesday in state court on child-sex-abuse charges.
Although prosecutors believe Carraway acted alone in making the videos, they did not rule out the possibility that other adults could be charged as collaborators. Charges against Williams, the principal, appear unlikely, however: Maryland is the only state, besides Wyoming, that does not impose criminal penalties on authority figures who knowingly fail to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement.
Prince George’s County, a suburb of Washington, is the nation’s wealthiest majority-black jurisdiction. The school where Carraway volunteered is 56 percent black and 39 percent Latino. Less than 20 percent of students were deemed proficient in reading and math on standardized tests last year.