Former pro basketball player among 3 special ed workers facing sex charges in Frederick County

Ex-employees of Frederick special education school accused of sexually abusing two students.

Three former employees of the Jefferson School in Frederick appeared in court Thursday where they were all given bond.

One of the accused is a former professional basketball player.

Jermaine Thomas is facing the most serious charges. 

He is accused of twice taking a 17-year-old student under his care off campus to a hotel.

"He would have his co-defendant Ms Eppard sign the minor victim out to take her on what basically were field trips,” said Assistant State's Attorney Tammy Leache, "and instead he would take her to his house and he would then take her to a local hotel for sex and he would video tape it and those are the bulk of the charges for him."

The indictment says Thomas made three recordings during one trip to a hotel and four more on another date. One of the recordings was as long as 24 minutes.

Thomas played basketball at Governor Thomas Johnson High School before going on to play point guard at LaSalle University in Philadelphia.

He then turned pro and played in Spain and Hungary.

Prosecutors say the three defendants at times worked in concert with each other.

They all worked as night supervisors at the Jefferson School, which is a private special education school on Point of Rocks Road.

Counselors at the school first caught wind of the allegations and notified authorities. The three were fired shortly thereafter.

Prosecutor Tammy Leache says the school works with young adults and children with behavioral and emotional problems. Some of them board there.

She says the ones who are residential are the ones with more severe issues so they are extremely vulnerable to abuse. Leache says many of them are there because they were already victims of abuse.

At this time there are only two documented victims but Leache says there are multiple allegations involving other students and the investigation is ongoing.

On June 5, Frederick County Child Protective Services contacted the Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division concerning allegations of child sex offenses occurring at the Jefferson School in Jefferson, Md. 

Investigators say the two victims are a 17-year-old girl and an 18-year-old girl who were both students at the time of the incidents.

Police say the offenses involving Thomas, Eppard and Dean allegedly began in late 2018 and continued into this year. Each suspect was a staff member at the school involved in the supervision of students in the residential area, according to investigators. 

Thomas was indicted Wednesday morning at the Frederick County Courthouse after agreeing to turn himself in to the Federick County Sheriff's Office. Eppard was arrested by Maryland State Police before noon Wednesday at a second job location in Hagerstown. Meanwhile, Dean was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Montgomery County. 

The judge in the case gave Eppard and Dean both 25,000 bonds while Thomas was given a bond of 50,000.

The Jefferson School released the following statement Wednesday evening: 

"The Jefferson School and Residential Treatment Center has learned that criminal charges were filed against three former employees. We have been working closely with law enforcement authorities and other agencies in their investigations into these allegations and will continue to collaborate with them when and where appropriate as the proceedings continue. We took immediate action and notified the police and Child Protective Services of those allegations when we were made aware as the safety and well-being of our students and residents is always our first priority. The three staff members were immediately placed on leave and later terminated.

We are in the process of reviewing all procedures and safeguards at The Jefferson School. We are committed to supporting our students, residents and their families, and are dedicated to providing the highest standard of education and care in a collaborative and compassionate environment."