3 former Md. private school employees accused of child sex abuse

Three former employees of a private school in Frederick County, Maryland, that serves students with emotional and behavioral disabilities are accused of sexually assaulting two students.

Wesley Dean, 32, of Montgomery Village; Ariel Eppard, 27, of Hagerstown; and Jermaine Thomas, 35, of Frederick, used to work for the Jefferson School, a special education day school and residential treatment center.

The Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office said all three were involved in supervising students in the residential part of the school. They were taken into custody Wednesday.

The students they are accused of assaulting are a 17-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman.

All three suspects are charged with varying counts of sex abuse of a minor. The charges against Dean and Eppard include being a court-ordered provider engaging in a sex act; the charges against Thomas include seven counts of child pornography.

The alleged abuse is believed to have started late last year and continued this year. It happened both on and off the school campus.

A spokeswoman for the school’s operator, Sheppard Pratt Health System, told the Frederick News-Post that it was the school that reported the accusations to investigators. The suspects were initially placed on leave and later fired.

In June, the accusations led to a joint investigation by Maryland State Police and Frederick County Child Protective Services. That investigation is ongoing.

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