Parents furious over school’s handling of sex assault

DAMASCUS, Md. — Some had tears in their eyes, others shook their heads in disbelief as furious mothers and fathers shouted questions and interrupted Louise Worthington Wednesday morning.

Worthington, the principal of John T. Baker Middle School in Damascus, hosted a meeting, trying to explain why it took nearly a month to tell parents about an alleged crime that occurred inside the school.

“I want you to know that it was a professional investigation that was conducted by the Montgomery County police,” Worthington said.

A temporary worker who was fixing cameras at the school Oct. 6 is accused of inappropriately touching a 12-year-old girl on the buttock in a hallway.

The 44-year old suspect, John Epps Jr., of Fort Washington, Maryland, was arrested and charged with a fourth-degree sex offense.

School officials withheld all information about the incident until Monday of this week, and only after reports surfaced in the media.

Worthington claims the school was trying to protect the privacy of the victim.

“Here we have a young girl who is obviously emotionally distraught, very fragile,” she said.

But parents at the meeting were not convinced. They think the school was trying to sweep it under the rug.

“The only thing that would make me comfortable is that entire administration leaves, gets fired and gets replaced,” said Eric Timmerman, who has a daughter at the school.

“Thankfully it somehow got out to the media because if not, the parents wouldn’t know and the kids wouldn’t know,” Timmerman said.

Montgomery County police are still investigating the crime.

The police department is looking into whether there are more victims, possibly at other schools.

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