SEABROOK – Prince George’s Police Department (PGPD) officials announced the arrest of a local teacher after receiving allegations of multiple sexual assaults committed on a 17-year-old female student.
Thomas Barber, 29, of Annapolis, was arrested on Oct. 11 on four charges of sexual assault on a minor and related charges.
Police officials say that Barber engaged in sexual contact with the accuser two separate times, both on and off-campus, as soon as the school year began. Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski confirmed that officials learned about the accusations on Oct. 10.
“Mr. Barber is going to be held accountable for the incidents that we are aware of, and our concern is if there are any extra incidents that he would be accountable for those (as well),” Stawinski said.
PGPD Spokesperson Jennifer Donelan said that the victim alerted Bladensburg security officials about one of the incidents, who followed protocol in reporting it through the school system, including contacting child protective services.
Once PGPD’s Child and Vulnerable Adult Unit learned of the allegations, officials began their investigation and were in constant contact with Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) CEO Dr. Monica Goldson, Stawinski said.
Barber, hired in 2018, taught business education and became an assistant coach for the junior varsity girls volleyball team. When questioned by police officials, Barber admitted having sexual contact with the victim, leading PGPD to arrest him. PGCPS released a statement announcing that they had terminated Barber due to the “circumstances of the case.”
“Any behavior that brings harm to a student will not be tolerated in any way by PGCPS,” the school system added.
As of now, only one victim is the focus of the investigation, Stawinski said. Police officials did not confirm if the accuser was a member of the school’s volleyball team but said that they would like to hear from students and other members of the local volleyball community if they had any inappropriate contact with Barber.
“My detectives reliably inform me that we are not aware of any more potential victims,” Stawinski said. “I do not want to cause panic, but if you are with the Bladensburg High School community or you are a member of a school community where you may have interacted with Bladensburg with respect to volleyball, and you have concerns about Mr. Barber, we would like to hear from you.”
In a letter sent to parents on Oct. 11, Principal B. Aisha Mahoney said the school will “cooperate fully” with the investigation into the allegations. A substitute teacher will fill in to cover for Barber’s classes. Stawinski added if more victims come forward against Barber, PGPD will be available to provide additional support to the schools to help report each incident.
“This is disheartening news for the Bladensburg community,” Mahoney said. “I understand that students, staff and families will experience a wide range of emotions. I want to assure you that (PGCPS) is committed to ensuring a quality education in a safe environment for all students.”
This is the second staff member at a PGCPS school investigated for inappropriate contact with a student. Back in February, then-DuVal High School in-school suspension coordinator and Head Football Coach Tarrell “Carlos” Lockwood was placed on unpaid leave after an allegation of “inappropriate interaction with a student.”
PGPD confirmed that an allegation against Lockwood was reported, but the interaction was not physical. Lockwood resigned from DuVal on March 22, and the investigation was terminated, according to PGCPS Spokesperson Raven Hill.
Barber was released on bond on Oct. 12, but the amount is not publicly available through Maryland Case Search. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Upper Marlboro on Nov. 13.
Police officials are asking members of the public with information relevant to this case to call PGPD’s Child and Vulnerable Adult Unit at (301) 772-4930.