Documents filed this week in Prince George’s County Circuit Court in Maryland claim that Deonte Carraway — a man in his early 20s who regularly showed up at school in his pajamas and by his attorney’s account had an IQ of 63 — leveraged a friendship with Principal Michelle Williams of Judge Sylvania S. Woods Elementary School and a “total lack of supervision” on campus to gain unlimited access to the children he abused.
Authorities said Carraway coerced children as young as 9 to send him explicit images through social media or to perform sex acts for him to record at school, in public facilities and in private homes. He victimized 23 children between the fall of 2014 and his February 2016 arrest, police said.
Carraway, 24, is serving a 75-year federal prison sentence after he pleaded guilty in January to 15 child pornography charges. Separately, in August, he was sentenced in court in Prince George’s County to 100 years on 23 counts of child sex abuse and pornography.
Williams had “absolutely no knowledge of the abuse of any children at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School at anytime before February 4, 2016 when two relatives of a student brought a student’s cell phone to her,” according to a statement Tuesday from her attorney, Mark T. Foley.
Williams immediately reported the incident to police and child protective services and “coordinated the initial efforts to assist law enforcement agencies,” Foley said in the statement.
“Contrary to the allegations of the recently amended civil lawsuit for money damages, Principal Williams did not encourage or foster an environment to permit any abuse,” the statement says.
Below is a timeline of complaints and concerns raised about Carraway’s behavior based on the allegations laid out in recent court documents in a civil suit against the Prince George’s County school system and Williams, the former principal.
Carraway is hired as a dedicated assistant “despite the fact that he had no background whatsoever which qualified him for this position.”
“While on the playground, Carraway so agitated a fourth-grade student, that the student hit or pushed Carraway. A fourth-grade teacher who observed this . . . was so distressed by Carraway’s behavior that she took the student to [an administrator] to talk about Carraway’s conduct.” The teacher describes him as “odd” and “childish.” The administrator says she will follow up but does not.
The school system asks Williams for two references for Carraway for his hiring. One of Williams’s subordinates eventually sends a letter. A second letter is never received.
Less than two months after Carraway is put on the payroll, despite not having the appropriate background or references, a fourth-grade student tells the principal or assistant principal: “[Y]ou need to check Deonte’s phone. There’s some things with kids on it, nasty things.” The principal or assistant principal said she did not believe the student because Carraway has a “clean record.” The student tried to talk to the adult several times after that, but they were always too busy to meet with her.
Williams meets with Carraway and warns him about his inappropriate behavior. She sends him an email. “During our conversation we discussed the importance of using good judgment when interacting with students,” Williams writes in the message dated June 15, 2015. “You were advised to only engage students in conversations in areas that are in plain view of the public. This practice will ensure that actions or conversations that could be deemed inappropriate do not take place.”
Carraway stops working as a paid assistant. He maintains a faculty/staff badge that gives him access to the school as a volunteer.
Two teachers tell the assistant principal that they do not feel comfortable with Carraway in their classrooms.
A teacher writes an email to Williams with her concerns about Carraway’s behavior, saying he is involved in “drama” with elementary-age students, inciting students to talk about each other and fight each other and is not acting professionally in a school setting.
A student reports to a school counselor and a teacher about being abused by Carraway behind the stage in the cafeteria.
Carraway calls a boy out of class and takes him to the school cafeteria and behind the stage. He directs a fifth-grade girl to perform a sex act on the boy, threatening to “kill her” if she tells anyone. Carraway records the activity and circulates the video among students via the social-media app Kik.
Carraway walks into a fourth-grade classroom and pulls a student out of class, falsely telling him “the principal needed him.” Carraway takes the child to a room behind the stage in the cafeteria and forces him and another child to engage in a sex act. Carraway directs the students and records the activity on his phone.
One student reports to a fourth-grade teacher that Carraway is engaging in criminal conduct.
Carraway pulls a student from class and has the child play Truth or Dare in the bathroom. Carraway directs students to perform sex acts, which he records. The student pulled from class reports what happened to an administrator.
The same day, a different boy’s uncle reports to principal Williams that he has seen explicit pictures and messages from Carraway on the child’s phone. Williams tells the uncle to return to school the following day for a meeting. The uncle goes to the police.
Carraway is arrested.