Maxwell Bero was a middle school teacher at Montgomery County’s Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School when he sexually abused his eighth-grade history student, according to police charging documents.
Bero, 30, was arrested Wednesday and put in jail on seven felony sex abuse charges.
Montgomery County Police charged Bero on two counts of third-degree sex crimes against a minor for allegedly rubbing his erect penis against his former eighth-grade student’s vagina.
The high school social studies teacher was also charged with four additional accounts of third-degree sex crimes for touching the victim’s buttocks and breasts at the time of the incidents that took place, court documents show.
Police also charged Bero with one count of sex abuse against a minor, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in jail.
If convicted on all charges, Bero could face up to 85 years behind bars.
Bero Out on Bond
Bero was released Thursday from police custody on a $10,000 unsecured personal bond.
Montgomery County District Administrative Judge Patricia Mitchell ordered Bero not to use any electronic devices and not to have unsupervised contact with children.
Bero is married and has one child.
State prosecutors requested Bero remain in jail, but Mitchell said she didn’t think Bero would not show up to court on his own.
Rockville criminal defense attorney Rene Sandler is representing Bero, who represented Bero’s wife in a 2017 legal matter.
Sandler did not respond to A Miner Detail’s request for comment Friday, though she told other media that Bero intends to make a statement at a later date.
Montgomery County Public Schools Responds
Montgomery County Public Schools released a statement Wednesday saying they Bero on administrative leave.
MCPS says Bero has been employed with the county’s school system since 2009.
Bero taught middle school history at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School from 2013 to 2016. He worked as a substitute teacher at various MCPS schools from 2009 to 2013, and in 2013, he worked as a long-term substitute at Wheaton High School.
Bero was teaching at Watkins Mill High School until recently. He coached varsity boys’ lacrosse and varsity football.
“These charges are deeply concerning and unacceptable and represent a complete breach of trust, responsibility, integrity, and the law,” MCPS said.
“We hold our employees to a high standard of character and these allegations violate that. Please know that the safety of our students is our top priority and we are committed to ensuring we maintain a safe learning environment for all.”
The state’s largest school system said counseling staff is available to “connect with students and provide any needed counseling or support this week.”
Statement of Charges
The Montgomery County Police Special Victims Division (SVID) began investigating the alleged sexual abuse on July 28.
The abuse allegedly occurred between Aug. 14, 2014, and June 12, 2015, at the Silver Spring middle school where Bero taught.
Police detectives interviewed the alleged victim, now 19, on July 29.
She claimed that she and Bero became friends after moving to Maryland.
She subsequently enrolled in the eighth grade at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School.
Bero, she said, was her history teacher.
She said her “friendship” with Bero allegedly began when she and other students of Bero’s would “spend their lunch period in Bero’s classroom getting help with assignments.”
The victim, whose name has not been released to the public, told detectives that she “disclosed her family issues to Bero and the struggles of being a bi-racial student.”
Charging documents allege that Bero posted his Kik Messanger’s social media account username on his classroom board “for students to message him directly with questions about assignments.”
This lead to Bero and the student regularly engaging through the social media platform, according to court documents.
Victim alleges Bero sent her drunken nude photos while celebrating at his bachelor party
Bero’s victim told detectives that she received “an unsolicited nude photo from Bero” sometime in 2014, whom she claims was intoxicated at the time and was celebrating at his bachelor party.
“After sending a full-frontal image of his naked body, Bero asked the victim to send one in return,” court documents allege.
In return, Bero’s former student said she sent Bero “an image of her bare chest with her hair covering her breasts.”
Court papers allege that “Bero and the victim continued to exchange nude images and messages to related ‘sexual fantasies’ for the remainder of the school year.”
Bero is alleged to have taken the nude photos from the boy’s restroom at the middle school and the bathroom of his residence.
The victim told detectives that Bero sent her pictures of himself fully nude “with his penis exposed.”
She said Bero also sent images of himself masturbating.
Bero used classroom for sexual activity with student
Bero and the student met inside his classroom, alone, during lunch, court documents say.
The victim said Bero would “graze across her breasts and buttocks” while he reached for items inside his classroom.
She told detectives that she and “Bero would message one another and arrange to meet in Bero’s classroom at the end of the day” under the pretext that she was “getting extra help with her assignments” or she was helping Bero “clean his classroom to earn student service-learning hours.”
Alone and inside of Bero’s classroom, she said she would “sit on Bero’s lap, straddling him” while rubbing “her vaginal area over Bero’s penis,” which caused Bero to have an erection.
If Bero’s classroom door was unlocked, the woman said her sexual encounters with Bero would occur “in front of a supply closet, that when opened, provided concealment from people walking by the classroom door.”
Other times, Bero’s classroom door was locked, the detectives wrote.
The woman said Bero gave her his cell phone number after she left the middle school, but she “eventually stopped communicating with Bero” when she finished her high school freshman year.
Bero’s unsuccessful congressional campaign
Bero was 29-years-old last November when he announced he would run for U.S. Congress in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.
Running to incumbent Rep. David J. Trone’s (D-Md.) political left, Bero stumped for Medicare for All and sought to address climate change, if elected.
Trone overwhelmingly defeated Bero in the June 2 6th District Democratic primary.
Bero is said to have been eying another run for public office in 2022, according to his campaign website.
Trone tweeted Thursday that he is “shocked and saddened to hear about the charges against Maxwell Bero” and he encourages any additional victims of Bero’s to contact the Montgomery County Department of Police – Special Victims Investigations Division.
I am shocked and sickened to hear about the charges against Maxwell Bero. Our first priority should be to make sure that any victim who comes forward gets the treatment and justice they deserve.
— David Trone (@davidjtrone) August 27, 2020
Preliminary hearing set for Oct. 9
Bero is due in Montgomery County District Court on Oct. 9 at 10:00 a.m. for a preliminary hearing, according to court documents.
Detectives are concerned there may be additional victims of Bero and are asking anyone who believes that he/she is a victim to call SVID detectives at 240-773-5400.