OTR Interviews

Killer in the Classroom?

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," May 5, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Could your child's teacher be a convicted killer? Charles Carroll was convicted of second-degree murder in 1995 after fatally shooting a man. After getting out of prison, he was hired as a teacher at a Baltimore private school, and the principal who hired him knew all about his criminal record. Tonight he's charged with sexually abusing three students. How did this happen?

Joining us from Baltimore is Peter Hermann of The Baltimore Sun. Welcome, Peter.

PETER HERMANN, BALTIMORE SUN: Welcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: Peter, explain to me the hiring of Charles Carroll and what happened.

HERMANN: Well, as we understand it, Mr. Carroll got out of prison after a murder that involved a fight, after severing about 10 years of a sentence, was hired a short time later by the school, by a principal who knew his background, wanted to give him a second chance, and unfortunately, didn't tell the parents what was happening.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the reaction of the parents tonight in that school?

HERMANN: So far, we've only managed to talk to a few parents, many of whom did not know what had occurred and are so far withholding judgment. We did talk to one parent of one of the alleged victims who was quite upset.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of the victims, there are three that are claiming to have been sexually assaulted, is that right?

HERMANN: That is correct, two 13-year-olds and a 17-year-old.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me about this school.

HERMANN: The school is one that we had not heard of before now. It's a very small school, about 100 students, affiliated with a church, private and located in East Baltimore.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is the principal still standing by her decision to hire this man?

HERMANN: Yes, the principal is still standing by the decision, saying that because the murder did not involve students, or did not involve children and, according to [Carroll], in self-defense, that there was no reason not to hire him.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, he made have claimed it was self- defense, but if it was really truly self-defense, he wouldn't have gone to prison. Either the jury convicted him or he pled. Do you know which?

HERMANN: I do not know which, but his attorney is here, and I'm sure we'll have some explanation for that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know any of the details of the underlying murder charge?

HERMANN: I believe it was self-defense in a fight where someone came after him, and then he shot him with a handgun.

VAN SUSTEREN: What can you tell me about his background?

HERMANN: So far, I think, all that we found was the one murder conviction in his background, and then, of course, the charges that are currently pending.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he grow up in the Baltimore area?

HERMANN: I believe he did grow up in the Baltimore area, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of a teaching degree or anything, or teaching, did he get his schooling in Baltimore?

HERMANN: That we do not know, but again, one thing that has come to light in this case is the standards for hiring at a private school differ greatly from those at a public school. At a public school, his felony for a violent crime conviction would have kept him out of the schools altogether. With private schools, the state mandates a criminal record check, which was done in this case, but does not require any further action.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Peter. Thank you.

Joining us is Warren Brown, Charles Carroll's lawyer. Warren, where's your client tonight? He's in jail?

WARREN BROWN, CLIENT ACCUSED OF MOLESTING THREE GIRLS: Yes, unfortunately. We had a bail review earlier today, and notwithstanding what I believe was a cogent and well-presented argument, the judge quickly denied our request that Charles be released and detained at his home.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you say in spite of a cogent argument? I mean, is he still on parole for murder?

BROWN: Well, yes, Greta, but a couple of things have to be understood. One, I talked to his defense attorney from that murder case, who is now a prosecutor, actually, in the Baltimore office. He indicated, as well, that it was a case of self-defense. I understand your position. It would have been…

VAN SUSTEREN: It's not my position. Either he pled guilty or a jury convicted him. I wasn't there.

BROWN: No, he pled guilty. He pled guilty. He received a 16-year sentence, when he could have gotten fifty. And it was a case where a much bigger person was assaulting him and he used a handgun. It would have been classic self-defense, save for the fact that the attacker was unarmed.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't want to quibble over the law with you, but I mean, if he pled guilty, the judge didn't accept a guilty plea unless, indeed, he was guilty and whether he had to believe his self- defense was not a legitimate defense.

BROWN: Well, no, it was not because of the absence of a deadly weapon. But believe me, guilty pleas are accepted all the time in the courts throughout Maryland, especially Baltimore, where there is even a protestation on the part of the defendant of his culpability. So that really didn't much matter.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I'm going to check up with the Baltimore judges because the Constitution doesn't allow judges to accept pleas of guilty when, indeed, they are not guilty. But anyway, setting that aside...

BROWN: Well, there's an Alfred plea. It's an Alfred plea, where they maintain their innocence.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was this an Alfred plea? Was this an Alfred plea?

BROWN: This was an Alfred plea, yes, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: Was that offered to him? A specific Alfred plea was offered to him, and he accepted that?

BROWN: Yes. And believe me, no one really cares much about it. They clear dockets down here. They're not quite that interested in justice. They clear dockets here.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And so tonight he's in jail. When does he go to court next on these three...

BROWN: Well, you know, within the next 30 days or so will be a preliminary hearing. The case really will begin to atrophy as we go along. I mean, the scientific evidence, the physical evidence, doesn't even support the claim. He's a 28-year-old, 6-foot, 180-pound guy who supposedly rapes a 13-year-old girl. They haven't even bothered to do a rape examination of her yet, and it supposedly happens two months before she first complains about it. It really doesn't even make any sense.

And the statement that is accorded to her by the detective in the case is inconsistent with witnesses who heard her speak to the detective. So I know that it garners a lot of attention initially because of his background, but truly, as time goes on, you'll see that this thing is going to peter out.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Warren. When all that evidence comes out, come back and we'll talk about it. Thank you, Warren.

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