Teacher accused of having sex with students

GLEN BURNIE, Md. - A high school English teacher from Anne Arundel County is now charged with sexually abusing three of his students.

Charging documents detail the inappropriate relationships that police say the teacher -- 29-year-old Robert Sears -- had with three female students from Glen Burnie High School

Police say the first incident -- a sexual encounter inside of a stairwell at the high school happened about two years ago, with a girl Jeff Sears met through his role as a junior varsity basketball coach.  That alleged victim now attends a university here in Maryland.

The second alleged victim, police say -- is still a student at Glen Burnie.  Investigators say last year, she sent him naked cell phone photos of herself -- and they say the two had a sexual encounter inside Sears' classroom.

"Everybody was just pretty shocked. It doesn't seem like him; it doesn't seem like something he would do," said Steven McFarlane, a senior at Glen Burnie High School.

But it was the relationship with a third victim during this current school year -- that finally caught up with Jeff Sears.  In October an assistant coach of a sports team on which the victim plays, overheard a conversation between that alleged victim and another girl.  Police say that coach heard the other girl say: "I can't believe you guys did that."

The assistant coach notified Glen Burnie's principal, the principal notified the Department of Social Servics, and DSS notified police.

"To be honest we are a school that is hurting right now. It breaks my heart that our students and staff have been put in a negative light because of the apparent actions of someone we trusted," said the principal of Glen Burnie High School, Vickie Plitt.

The investigation determined that the third alleged victim -- who is 16 years old -- had sex with Jeff Sears at his home in Glen Burnie, along with his car, and his classroom.

Police say in the past two months she'd sent him 723 text messages, and he had sent her 683.  Eight of the girl's messages included photos of her -- either in her underwear or completely naked.

"As a mother, a grandmother and someone who has spent my entire adult life in education, these charges make me sick to my stomach," said Patricia Nalley, the president of the Anne Arundel County School Board.

The charges come as something less than a surprise to Adam Rosenberg, the head of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center.

"He's using the school for his own playground there.  People who are pedophiles and sex offenders find themselves gravitating towards where the children are," he said.

He said this case -- along with the allegations of abuse at Penn State, and others, give parents an opportunity to talk with their children about what's appropriate and what's not.  And parents should keep a close eye on who their children come in contact with -- and whether they're spending inordinate amounts of time with any one adult.

"Everybody has a conversation with their own children at their own children's pace," he said.  "I think it's important to realize that it's not just one big conversation but lots of little conversations along the way."

Jeff Sears was removed from his teaching position and any contact with students when the allegations came to light.

Police arrested him Thursday morning.  He faces numerous child sex charges, and is being held on $3-million dollars bail.

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