A former Montgomery County school teacher and one-time candidate for U.S. Congress has been sentenced to eight years in prison for sexually abusing two of his students.
Maxwell Bero pleaded guilty to the charges in April. In handing down the sentence, Judge David Boynton told Bero he had “crushed” his victims.
Bero told the judge on Friday that he deeply regrets his actions.
The one time candidate for Maryland’s sixth congressional district says the therapy he has undergone since his arrests has taught him much about himself, and he now knows what he did to his two students was “morally reprehensible."
According to prosecutors, Bero groomed his victims at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle school in Silver Spring where he taught history and government.
One of those victims, only identified as S.K., spoke to the court remotely. At times tearful, she said:
“Being groomed and sexually abused as a child robbed me of my sense of peace and safety, and joy within myself. I felt repulsed and angered by my own body. Why was he attracted to me? It’s derailed my life."
Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information
"She was crushed and she continues to carry the burden of the results of this violation with her even today as a young woman trying to build a life for herself," Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said.
Prosecutors say the abuse took place in 2014 and 2015.
The state's attorney says the number of child abuse and sexual abuse allegations fell significantly when the school system went to virtual learning.
“Typically pre-pandemic we were getting 27 reports of alleged child abuse in the community every single day," McCarthy said.
"Now during Covid, things changed drastically—we went down to one or two cases a day being reported to the police."
He said those numbers have now jumped back up and the reports of abuse are nearly back to where they were pre-pandemic.
"We learn about abuse and neglect of children because of third party reporters. One of our really reliable reporters are the employees in the Montgomery County school system," McCarthy said.
The state's attorney said his prosecutors are now seeing at least one student come forward every time the school system teaches one of its personal safety body lessons. Classes that began in 2018.