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Prosecutor: Montgomery teacher accused of sexual abuse faked his own death

A former Montgomery County teacher accused of sexually abusing 15 young students was ordered held without bond Friday after prosecutors recounted a story alleging that he faked his death to avoid one of the victims who tried to track him down after she’d become an adult.

“The victim sought to locate the defendant and confront the defendant,” Assistant State’s Attorney Tim Hagan said in court.

In response, Lawrence W. Joynes posted a fictitious death certificate on his personal Web site and wrote a post indicating that he had committed suicide, according to Hagan and court papers. The ruse appears to have worked.

Hagan’s allegations speak to what authorities say was a concerted effort by Joynes going back more than two decades to cover up his abuse. The music teacher was arrested early last year and has been held behind bars since.

The latest court hearing addressed whether Joynes, 55, should be allowed to leave jail on bond prior to any trial in Montgomery. Hagan argued that Joynes’s deception over his death showed that he is a flight risk.

Lawrence Joynes (Baltimore County Police)

The alleged faking of his death is connected with what court papers describe as Joynes’s first victim, someone he met in 1991 when she was a seventh-grader at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring. The student got to know Joynes and confided that she had been abused by a family member.

“Joynes had become the victim’s advocate and confidant,” Montgomery Police Detective Gary Irwin wrote in an affidavit filed in court. “The victim increasingly felt safe and secure with Joynes.”

As the two spent more time together, Joynes spoke to her about God, told her that he loved her, told her that he would take care of her and eventually kissed her, according to the affidavit. The contact escalated over several months to intercourse.

In 2005, when the woman was about 26, she “began an attempt to bring closure to this chapter of her life by confronting Joynes.” She found his Web site (www.bearded and sent an e-mail. “Shortly after, the ‘beardedwolf’ website posted the death certificate of Lawrence Joynes and also displayed a posting that indicated that Joynes had committed suicide. The victim believed this to be true,” the affidavit states.

Four years later, the woman searched the Internet for information about Joynes. She found his Montgomery school e-mail address and sent a message asking whether the recipient was the same Larry Joynes from Eastern. The reply she received purported to be from Joynes’s son, “Larry Joynes Jr.,” who asserted that his father died in 2005.

“The victim advised him that his father molested her while she attended Eastern Middle School,” Irwin wrote. “The email correspondence from ‘Larry Joynes Jr.’ included a lengthy and convoluted explanation that his uncle assumed his father’s identity.”

The victim believed the account, Irwin wrote.

By early 2013, federal agents investigating online distribution of child pornography had made their way to Joynes. Along with local detectives, they searched his home in Baltimore County and charged him with possession of child pornography.

News coverage of the arrest reached the woman who had been trying to contact Joynes. On March 4, she called a Montgomery detective to report her account. She also showed detectives her middle school yearbook.

“Dear Bumpkin Bear,” Joynes wrote in coded script, “always remember that I love you. You are my reason for going on.”

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Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at the paper in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder.

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