The number of children victimized by a school volunteer and youth choir director who police say forced children to perform sex acts on camera has climbed to 12.
Prince George's County Public School officials told parents on Thursday officials will work to ensure children's safety.
“I, like many, was shocked, appalled, disgusted, and disheartened by the allegations that a former PGCPS employee harmed students and vulnerable children," school district CEO Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell said.
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The family of an 11-year-old boy in the choir at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School, named only as John Doe 2, filed for a class-action lawsuit on Thursday against the Prince George's County school board and the school's principal.
The family's lawyer, David Simpson, said the case against Deonte Carraway, 22, seems to be growing.
"Unfortunately, the more we keep looking, the more we keep finding and the broader the whole matter seems to be getting," he said.
The suspect, a Glenarden resident, is accused of having filmed "vile sexual acts" between children age 9 to 13 at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary, the Glenarden Municipal Center, the Theresa Banks Memorial Aquatic Center and in private homes.
The family of a 9-year-old boy filed a lawsuit Wednesday, claiming the child was told by Carraway that he would be part of a "club" if he participated in sex acts the school volunteer filmed.
Parents flocked to the school Thursday night for a meeting with administrators.
"We go to work hoping that everything is safe, and we don't feel any safety now," one father said.
Carraway was arrested Friday after after the uncle of that 9-year-old victim saw a disturbing image on the child's phone, in the app Kik, police said. He admitted being involved in producing child pornography, police said.
The school's principal, Michelle Williams, was placed on leave out of an "abundance of caution, Maxwell said. The family of the first child's family to file a lawsuit in the case said misconduct by Carraway had been reported but that Williams took no action, saying teachers had no proof.
Carraway's pastor, Dr. Henry Davis of First Baptist Church of Highland Park, said that looking back, he sees some red flags in the young man's behavior.
"The strange part was that I never knew his family. He used to come by himself," Davis said.
Carraway was always alone at the church, the pastor said.
Parents at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary said at the school he was often surrounded by kids.
“He was just always around children -- at the playground, walking to and from school with them,” mother Monique Ganntte previously said.
Nothing criminal was found in Carraway’s background check before he started working for the school in November 2014, officials said.
Here's what PGCPS officials said in an update Thursday that they will do to keep students safe:
At the administrative level, PGCPS leaders met with the Judge Sylvania Woods community to share information on the incident and review policies and procedures for reporting abuse and suspicious activity. Counseling and psychological support will be provided to students and families upon request, and those services will remain in place as long as they are needed. A second meeting will take place at the school this evening.
Dr. Maxwell will also convene a taskforce of internal and external partners to review current policies and procedures and identify areas of immediate improvement. The district will also consult with national experts in this field to ensure the taskforce recommendations are aligned with best practices from across the country.
Next week, staff from the PGCPS Office of General Counsel will address principals during a systemic principals’ meeting and review all laws, policies, and procedures related to an employee’s obligation to report abuse and suspicious behavior.
At the school level, principals will hold mandatory meetings with staff to review the August 2015 training materials and October 2015 memorandum on procedures for reporting abuse and suspicious activities. Professional school counselors will reach out to students and conduct lessons in the classroom that address the differences between appropriate and inappropriate physical contact; personal body safety rules and when to use them; and how to identify trusted adults to whom they can report when they feel unsafe.
“We will work closely with our community partners and use all possible resources to foster a safe and supportive environment for all students and families,” added Dr. Maxwell. “It goes without saying that these type of acts are intolerable and unacceptable.”
If parents or community members have any additional information regarding this case, they should call 1-800-CALL-FBI.