A 24-year-old counselor at a Montgomery County high school “wellness center” was charged with two counts of sex offense after he was accused of abusing a 16-year-old student on school grounds before the school day began, according to court records.
McNeary worked as a contractor that helped run the wellness center at the Gaithersburg school, according to school officials. There are six such centers at high schools in Montgomery County, and county leaders have vowed to expand them to help address mental health needs exacerbated by coronavirus pandemic.
McNeary was arrested on Tuesday and released on a $10,000 bond. He could not be reached Thursday on a phone number listed to him in court records. It is not clear from online records if McNeary has an attorney or if so who they are.
McNeary was given an award last year by the Montgomery Board of Education for his community service.
“Mr. Clarence McNeary serves as a youth development specialist at the Watkins Mill High School Wellness Center,” the school system wrote at the time. “Mr. McNeary has strived to provide positive youth development and services to more than 100 students each year, focusing on African American males. Mr. McNeary implemented curriculum-based programs such as goal setting, leadership, sexual health and Black male empowerment. He played a vital part in the student ambassador program that provided stipends for students to take a leadership role in food insecurity and vaccination clinic outreach.”
The wellness centers are operated by the county’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), according to agency spokeswoman Mary Anderson. All of the employees at the wellness centers work for community-based organizations under contract with DHHS, Anderson said. The wellness centers operate at six high schools: Watkins Mill, Northwood, Gaithersburg, Wheaton, Seneca Valley and John F. Kennedy.
Identity, a Rockville-based nonprofit, runs the wellness center at Watkins Mill High School. Carolyn Camacho, the nonprofit’s program director, wrote in an email, “Since the accusation Mr. McNeary has not been providing services at the Watkins Mill High School Wellness Center.”
She added that he was a contractor with another entity, the 480 Club, which operated at Watkins Mill. Identity follows Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services’ background clearance policy requirements for staff and subcontractors, she said. Camacho declined further comment, citing the ongoing investigation and pending court date.
The 16-year-old girl told investigators that she first contacted McNeary “when she was seeking counseling services,” police wrote in court papers. They exchanged contact information and began talking and texting.
The two eventually began meeting in the wellness center before school began. That is where the abuse occurred, police said.
The allegations against McNeary were earlier reported by MoCo360. The publication quoted 480 Club founder and director Joseph Hooks as saying McNeary’s contract was “terminated immediately” in December 2022 when the accusations first came to light.
“480 Club takes all allegations seriously and complies annually with MCPS background checks,” Hooks stated to MoCo360. “Due to the open investigation and pending court date 480 Club has no further comment until this case completely [is] adjudicated.”
Hooks declined to comment Thursday when reached by The Washington Post.