Contractor accused of inappropriately touching Montgomery Co. student takes plea deal, avoids jail

A man pleaded guilty Tuesday for groping a 12-year-old girl at school.

John Epps Jr., a contract worker installing security cameras at Baker Middle School, was caught on camera. As part of his sentence, Epps will have to register on Maryland's sex offender registry and was placed on probation but will avoid jail time.

"It's creepy. Look he's mid 40's and he is inappropriately touching a 12-year-old. That's something we should be concerned about. And he's being held accountable today," said Montgomery County state's attorney John McCarthy.

According to the charging document, he also had two prior arrests for sexual offenses against women but was not convicted of those. The judge gave him a four year suspended sentence, meaning he will not go to jail, and placed him on five years probation. Epps will also remain on the sex offender registry for 15 years.

For some parents at the school, the sentence fell short. "I think maybe he should have really gotten some jail time for it yeah. So this stuff doesn't happen again," said LeAnne Fink, who has a sixth grader at the school.

The state's attorney says the case is different than others in Montgomery County Public Schools recently involving school employees. Epps was an outside contract worker and would not have undergone a background check by the school system, but by the contractor. That criminal background check, the school system said, was inaccurate.

He had done work in 59 schools prior to his arrest. Now, with his name on the sex offender registry, he won't be allowed in a school again. "I am hoping what we have achieve here today is that he is monitored, he is supervised and he stays out of our schools," said McCarthy.

In response to this case, the state's attorney, police and MCPS are working on new guidelines to do a better job notifying parents when a crime like this happens at school.