A man who worked in a middle school in Waldorf, Maryland, is accused of abusing 24 boys and attempting to transmit HIV, prosecutors announced Monday.
Charges against Carlos Deangelo Bell, 30, of Waldorf, include purposely trying to transmit HIV, giving marijuana to minors and 12 counts of child sex abuse. Bell now faces 119 counts for crimes he is accused of committing over the course of more than two years, from May 2015 to June 2017.
The number of children he is believed to have victimized has more than doubled; prosecutors said earlier this month that Bell was believed to have abused at least 10 children.
Of the 24 victims, 11 have not been identified, Charles County State's Attorney Tony Covington said.
"We still need help from the public. We still need people who know something about this case to contact the sheriff's office," Covington said at a news conference.
The victims were all boys, "mostly middle schoolers and pre-adolescent students," Sheriff Troy Berry said earlier this month. His job included working with students with special needs.
There may be more victims.
Bell is accused of assaulting students and creating child pornography on school grounds, at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School in Waldorf, Maryland. A video found on one of Bell's electronic devices appears to show him having sex with a child inside a classroom at the school, Berry said.
On Monday, Charles County Public Schools removed the school's principal, Kenneth Schroeck, from the position and made the school system's executive director, Marvin Jones, the interim principal.
Bell told law enforcement that he is HIV positive, Sheriff Troy Berry said. Berry said earlier in July that law enforcement was not aware of any victim who has contracted HIV, but that more testing will occur.
Bell faces three counts of "transmitting or attempting to transmit the HIV virus," Covington said Monday. He refused to answer questions about the charges.
Bell was identified after a parent noticed suspicious text messages on a child's phone in December, Berry said. At that time, Bell was removed from Charles County Public Schools, said Charles County school Superintendent Kimberly Hill. Law enforcement launched an investigation.
Investigators notified the Charles County Sheriff's Office that child pornography had been found on Bell's personal electronic devices, Berry said, including graphic images of Bell sexually assaulting children.
"Some of the crimes appear to have been committed on school property, and others at his home in Waldorf," Berry said.
On the same day Bell was arrested, Charles County grand jury indicted him on two counts of second-degree assault and three counts of production of child pornography. He is being held without bond.
Covington said the delay between the report of an inappropriate text and the discovery of the child pornography, by Maryland State Police, was not unusual. There is no evidence that student who received the text had any physical contact with Bell.
"Frankly, I am not sure there is a faster track," Covington said. "I will tell you that it takes about eight months on any case when you are talking about computers. In a new day and age, computers and other devices are used all the time in crime."
Covington added, "The reality is, they don't have the resources to get it done more quickly."
Hill, the school superintendent, apologized for Bell's alleged behavior.
"In an organization that is all about children, these allegations are horrifying," she said. "To our parents and our community, who put their faith and trust in us to safeguard their children, I apologize on behalf of Charles County Public Schools. Student safety is job one, and clearly we have work to do to make sure that this will never happen again."
The victims will get support and counseling, Hill said, and the school district will launch a "comprehensive and transparent" review of safety protocols and the curriculum around sexual harassment.
Bell was an aspiring fashion stylist who appeared on a reality TV show, a college classmate and six other people who knew him told News4. He was a contestant on the short-lived CBS show "The Job." He competed, unsuccessfully, in an episode that aired in 2013 for an editorial assistant position at Cosmopolitan magazine.
"Cosmo could definitely change my life," Bell said in a promotional video for the show, wearing a pair of handcuffs dangling on a necklace.
In addition to Bell's job at Stoddert Middle School, he was a track coach at La Plata High School. He volunteered as an assistant coach for a Waldorf, Maryland track club called the Comets, police said. In fall 2015, he worked for a company that provided before- and after-school care at J.P. Ryon Elementary School and William B. Wade Elementary School. And in fall 2008, Bell worked as a facility attendant with the Charles County Department of Community Services, police said. He also may have coached or helped coach other sports teams in the region.
Anyone with information on Bell is asked to call 800-CALL-FBI.
Bell faces life in prison.