A former Montgomery County social studies teacher pleaded guilty Thursday to sex abuse in a case centered on sexually charged e-mails and conversations he had with a 16-year-old student.
Richard Shemer, 50, who taught at Albert Einstein High School and coached baseball, faces up to five years in prison at his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for June. His attorney is expected to argue for no jail time in part, he said, because Shemer never touched the student.
“To most people, he was a respected teacher and coach,” said Barry Helfand, the lawyer.
Shemer was placed on leave last year. He has not been employed with the school system since February, according to school officials.
In an plea agreement filed in the case, prosecutors agreed to seek no more than five years of incarceration. Shemer’s name is expected to be placed on a public sex-offender registry, according to court records.
The investigation of him began on Sept. 28, 2013, when the victim’s mother called police to report that she had discovered inappropriate e-mails from Shemer to her daughter. The e-mails had come from Shemer’s county school e-mail account.
Detectives spoke with the student, who confirmed that the e-mails had come from Shemer. She also said that she visited his classroom during her lunch hour and after school. The two spoke specifically about sex — and Shemer asked her if she would perform specific sexual acts, according to police.
“The defendant did ask her if she would dominate him,” prosecutor Tim Hagan said in court Thursday.
The conversations between Shemer and the student continued via e-mail. At one point, Hagan said, Shemer asked the student to use a different e-mail address to reach him. Shemer also asked her to provide him with a picture of a private part of her body, according to police.
Helfand spoke briefly in court Thursday. He conceded that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict his client of sex abuse, but he said that in such cases in Maryland, prosecutors don’t have to establish that there was any physical contact.
Helfand said that Shemer never set up a specific plan or date to engage in sexual activity with the student. Helfand said he expects that adults and former baseball players will speak on his client’s behalf at the sentencing hearing.
Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for the Montgomery County state’s attorney’s office, said that the plea holds Shemer accountable. “Use of the school system’s computers to send lurid requests of a teenage girl is inappropriate, and today’s agreement reflects that,” he said.