A jury trial date has been set in the case of a Montgomery County high school teacher and former congressional candidate facing multiple sex-related felonies involving sexual abuse of a former student.
Maxwell A. Bero, 31, is accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old female student from 2014 to 2015 when he taught history at Col. E Brooke Lee Middle School in Montgomery County, Maryland.
His jury trial is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., Monday, May 3, in courtroom 5g in the Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Circuit Court Judge David A. Boynton will preside over Bero’s trial.
Bero arrested, charged, and released on bond
Bero was arrested and put in jail last August by Montgomery County Police on one count of sex abuse of a minor and six counts of a third-degree sex offense, all of which are felonies.
He was later released from police custody on a $10,000 unsecured bond on the condition that he has no unsupervised contact with children – including his young daughter – and refrain from using electronic devices.
District Court Judge Patricia Mitchell also ordered Bero to adhere to pretrial services supervision. Court records show Bero now lives in Frederick County with his mother.
Defense attorney Rene Sandler of Rockville is representing Bero.
Sandler’s website says she”regularly handles high profile criminal cases and cases of public interest,” including former Wootton High School football coach Christopher Papadopoulos, who was arrested and charged last October with sexual abuse amid allegations that he abused two of his former football players some years ago, court documents say.
Ms. Sandler did not respond to A Miner Detail’s request for comment.
MCPS places Bero on administrative leave
Like Papadopoulos, Montgomery County Public Schools placed Bero on administrative leave.
“These charges are deeply concerning and unacceptable and represent a complete breach of trust, responsibility, integrity, and the law,” the school system said in a statement last year.
“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.”
Until his arrest, Bero was teaching at Watkins Mill High School, where he coached varsity boys’ lacrosse and varsity football.
Bero could face up to 85 years in prison if a jury convicts him on all seven counts.
Statement of Charges
The Montgomery County Police Special Victims Division (SVID) began investigating Bero’s alleged sexual abuse last July.
According to court documents, the abuse occurred between Aug. 14, 2014, and June 12, 2015, at the Silver Spring middle school where Bero taught for a few years.
Police detectives interviewed Bero’s alleged victim on July 29, 2020. She claimed that she and Bero became friends after she moved to Maryland.
The alleged victim subsequently enrolled in the eighth grade at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School, where Bero taught history.
Bero’s alleged victim told detectives that she and Bero began a “friendship” when she and other students spent their lunch period in Bero’s classroom getting help with assignments.
The alleged victim, whose name has not yet been released to the public, told police 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.”
Students subsequently engaged Bero regularly through the social media platform, court documents allege.
Alleged victim claims Bero sent drunken nude photos while celebrating his bachelor party
Bero’s alleged victim told police detectives 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 claims she sent Bero “an image of her bare chest with her hair covering her breasts.”
“Bero and the victim continued to exchange nude images and messages to related ‘sexual fantasies’ for the remainder of the school year,” court documents claim.
Bero is alleged to have taken a nude photo from the boy’s restroom at the middle school and from his home bathroom.
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’s classroom allegedly used for sexual activity
Bero and his alleged victim 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 his classroom, Bero’s alleged victim said she would sit on Bero’s lap, straddling him while rubbing her vaginal area over his penis, which caused Bero to have an erection.
If Bero’s classroom door was unlocked, the alleged victim 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 in the charging documents.
The woman said Bero gave her his cell phone number after she left 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 in November 2019 when he announced a bid for U.S. Congress in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, challenging incumbent Rep. David J. Trone (D-Md.) in the Democratic primary.
Trone defeated Bero the following June by huge margins.
Bero was purportedly eying another run for public office in 2022, according to his congressional website.
Ryan Miner is the Editor of A Miner Detail, a leading Maryland politics blog and multimedia news hub. He is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast. News tips and feedback: Ryan@AMinerDetail.com.
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