Former Charles County Public Schools educator Carlos Bell, who is accused of sexually abusing dozens of former students, pleaded not guilty to 10 federal child porn charges Tuesday.
Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.
A judge ordered that Bell remain in custody until his federal trial, which likely won't begin until next year.
Federal prosecutors filed child pornography charges against Bell earlier this month.
Court filings reviewed by the News-4 I-Team showed the prosecutors accused Bell of engaging in “sexually explicit” conduct between 2014 and 2016 with at least 10 children. The federal charges come after an announcement by Charles County’s state’s attorney, in which Bell was indicted on 206 charges involving the sex abuse of 42 alleged victims.
Federal charges could increase the possible prison terms Bell faces, while also potentially sparing children from testifying in criminal proceedings against Bell.
Bell worked at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School in Waldorf, Maryland. Investigators said Bell is accused of attempting to transmit HIV to boys in the school, but state officials said they are not aware of any alleged victims that have tested positive for HIV.
The newly filed federal charges expand the timeframe of suspected misconduct to as early as December 2014.
The victims were all boys, "mostly middle schoolers and pre-adolescent students," Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry said this summer. Bell’s job included working with students with special needs.
A video found on one of Bell's electronic devices appears to show him having sex with a child inside a classroom at the school, Berry said.
According to police statements, Bell told law enforcement he is HIV positive.
Bell was identified after a parent noticed suspicious text messages on a child's phone in December, according to police statements in July.
Federal prosecutors filed charges in 2016 in another high-profile child exploitation case. The federal prosecution of Deonte Carraway, a former Prince George’s County elementary school aide, yielded a 75 year prison sentence against Carraway, before Prince George’s County’s prosecution closed.
Child victims were not called to testify in the federal plea agreement proceedings against Carraway.