By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
Thomas Barber, 29, a teacher at Bladensburg High School, has been arrested and charged with sexually abusing a student twice in a one-month span, according to police reports.
The Prince George’s County Police Department was notified on Oct. 10 after the student reported that Barber engaged in sexual contact with her – both on and off school grounds- since the school year began. Detectives then spoke to Barber, who confirmed to the sexual abuse of this student. Authorities say this is Barber’s only inappropriate encounter with a minor that they know of at this time.
In addition to his duties as a teacher, Barber was an assistant coach for Bladensburg’s junior varsity volleyball team as well. School security notified police about the allegations after the student reported concerns to them on Oct. 9. The 17-year-old student is believed to be the only one to come forward at this time. There have been no other victims who have stepped forward with any accusations to this point against him.
Prince George’s County Police were able to make the arrest and charges were filed against Barber in less than 24 hours.
“I have to thank the courage of the victim and all those who stepped forward to address this situation,” said Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said during a news conference. “We are not aware of any additional victims.”
“Mr. Barber is going to be held accountable.”
Barber worked full time as a business education teacher at the high school and was an assistant coach for the junior varsity girls volleyball team. Barber was arrested early Friday morning, Oct. 11 and was fired immediately after the school district learned of the charges that afternoon.
“Any behavior that brings harm to a student will not be tolerated in any way by PGCPS,” is how an official statement read that was posted on the PGCPS twitter account. “We remain focused on our commitment to ensuring safe learning environments for all students.”
Bladensburg Principal B. Aisha Mahoney, sent a letter about the allegations to advise the families in that community last weekend.
“This is disheartening news for the Bladensburg community. I understand that students, staff and families will experience a wide range of emotions,” Mahoney wrote in her letter. “A substitute teacher will provide support to Mr. Barber’s classes until further notice.”
Barber, an Annapolis resident, had been with the PGCPS since August of 2018. According to multiple reports, Bladensburg is the only school in the County where he had been employed and he was never disciplined or reprimanded previously. Barber’s criminal background check was reportedly clear when he was hired.
Prince George’s County Public Schools released a statement before the Police Department’s news conference, saying the school system was aware of Barber’s arrest. He was immediately fired as a result of the charges being filed against him.
“We will cooperate fully with law enforcement in this investigation,” PGCPS said. “Any behavior that brings harm to a student will not be tolerated in any way by PGCPS. We remain focused on our commitment to ensuring safe learning environments for all students.”