Friday, July 6, 2007

Middle school teacher faces new indictment on sex abuse charges

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A Montgomery County grand jury issued a new indictment Thursday for the middle school teacher charged with sexual abuse of a minor in May and arrested again last month on a second set of similar charges.

Joseph Robert Ballmann, 47, of Rockville, was originally indicted by a county grand jury June 14 on a set of charges filed against him in May.

Ballmann was arrested May 2 at his home in the 11100 block of Cedarwood Drive in Rockville and charged with sexually abusing one of his students from Robert Frost in Rockville on numerous occasions from spring 2004 to May 2005.

Police said Ballmann had been the boy’s seventh grade teacher at Frost and allege he had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with the boy at Ballmann’s residence, not on school property. The student is now 15.

Ballmann was charged with sexual abuse of a minor, third-degree sexual offense and sexual solicitation of a minor.

Ballman was arrested again June 7, after police investigated allegations that Ballman had had inappropriate contact with a second boy. He was charged with child abuse and third-degree sexual offense.

Police detectives allege Ballmann engaged in inappropriate sexual contact between 1995 and 1997 with a boy who was in the seventh and eighth grades at Westland Middle School in Bethesda at the time. The alleged victim is now 24 years old.

Police said the student and Ballmann, then a teacher at Westland, had developed a personal relationship as the two spent time together in activities both during and after school. The alleged abuse occurred at the victim’s home, not on school property, police said.

Ballmann was living with a relative in the 81900 block of Falling Star Road in Germantown at the time of his second arrest.

Thursday’s indictment overrides the previous indictment that was issued June 14, according to the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The new indictment adds new charges and consolidates the two sets of charges against Ballmann into one case, according to a press release issued by the State’s Attorney’s Office Friday.

Ballmann is now charged with a total of two counts of sexual abuse of a minor, three counts of sexual abuse in the third-degree, one count of sexual solicitation of a minor, one count of exhibition of pornography to a minor and two counts of manufacture or possession of a destructive device, according to the press release.

A preliminary hearing in Ballmann’s second case, originally scheduled for Friday, did not take place as a result.

Ballmann is being held without bond at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Clarksburg, said Seth Zucker, a spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Ballmann has been a bus driver for the Montgomery County school system, served as a substitute teacher, taught English and social studies at Westland and until his arrest, taught English at Robert Frost, according to school system officials.

He is currently on administrative leave from the school system, said Carol Petersen, a secretary at Robert Frost Middle School.

Anyone who has additional information about other alleged incidents involving Ballmann is asked to call Detective Karen Carvajal in the Family Crimes Division at 240-773-5417. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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