Teacher Accused of Having Sex With Teenage Boy

By William Wan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Howard County teacher has been accused of having sex with a student -- the third teacher in the system to be arrested on sex offense charges since January, police said.

Kirsten A. Kinley, 27, a special education teacher at Marriotts Ridge High School, turned herself in to authorities Thursday after learning about a warrant for her arrest on charges of sleeping with a 15-year-old boy in 2004 and 2005.

She was charged with two counts of third-degree sex offense, two counts of fourth-degree sex offense and two counts of solicitation of a minor. She was released on $75,000 bond Thursday night.

The boy, now 17, recently told a therapist about the alleged incidents, and the therapist informed police Monday. The boy said he met Kinley through a friend, police said. At the time, Kinley was teaching at Hammond Middle School in Laurel, and the boy attended another school.

When the two began talking via instant messages, Kinley asked the boy questions about his sex life, telling him that she wanted to sleep with him, according to charging documents.

While the boy was with his family during the Christmas holiday in 2004, Kinley e-mailed him sexually explicit photos and movies of herself, which the boy gave to investigators this week, court records say. On New Year's Eve, when the boy returned from a trip with his family, Kinley picked him up from his home and had sex with him at her apartment. The boy contacted her again in early 2005, and they had sex again at her home, according to the charging documents.

Police searched Kinley's apartment in the 7500 block of Murray Hill Road in Columbia this week and seized a computer, a laptop and a webcam.

Two other teachers in Howard were arrested last month on similar charges.

Joseph S. Ellis, 25, a Glenelg High School social studies teacher, was arrested Jan. 5 on charges that he sent obscene messages and pictures of himself engaged in sex acts to the cellphones of two female students, touched a female student's genitals and tried to force a female student to touch his.

A few days later, Alan M. Beier, 52, a River Hill High School science teacher, was arrested and charged with sexually abusing two students and unspecified misconduct with a third student.

"Sometimes when students hear about these things happening at other schools, it gives them courage to come forward," school system spokeswoman Patti Caplan said.

Ellis and Beier were freed on bond, and their trial dates have not been set. All three teachers are on paid leave pending results of police investigations, Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin said.

School officials said Kinley started teaching at Hammond Middle in January 2002. In fall 2005, when the system opened a new high school, she became one of the founding faculty members at Marriotts Ridge, where she was the faculty adviser for the pompom squad and for the sophomore class on projects such as homecoming and parade floats.

At a news conference yesterday, Cousin defended the school system. "Howard County does provide a safe environment for students," he said. "The behavior we've seen recently is not indicative of the system as a whole."

After the second incident, school officials began planning to modify the orientation process for new teachers to include a talk about teacher-student relationships.

"It will address about how you maintain the appropriate distance between you and students," Caplan said. School officials said they are not aware of any other investigations of sexual misconduct among teachers. A county police spokeswoman declined to comment on the ongoing investigations.

Staff writer Joshua Zumbrun contributed to this report.

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