A former Montgomery County Public Schools teacher who ran for Congress in 2020 was sentenced to eight years in prison on Friday by a Montgomery County Circuit judge for sexually abusing two students, the State’s Attorney’s Office said.
Maxwell Bero, 31, of Point of Rocks, sexually abused two eighth-grade students while teaching at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School (the school was renamed Odessa Shannon Middle School in July) in Silver Spring in 2014 and 2015 when they were each alone in a classroom, police have said.
He was arrested in August 2020 and charged with six counts of third-degree sex offense and one count of sex abuse of a minor.
Bero later pleaded guilty to two counts of sex abuse of a minor, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
One victim, a 14-year-old girl in eighth grade at the time, communicated with Bero through the messaging application Kik, and he sent a nude photo of himself from his bachelor party in late 2014, according to charging documents.
The two continued to exchange nude photos and messages about “sexual fantasies” for the rest of the school year.
The sexual abuse occurred when Bero arranged to meet the student after school, according to documents.
Bero would message with the second victim about school, daily activities and family on Kik, Snapchat and text message, according to charging documents.
Bero and the victim started messaging each other in early 2015 on Kik, charging documents state. Later, Bero sent the victim a nude photo and asked her to send one in return. She refused, and sent a photo of herself wearing a tank top.
Bero and the victim continued to exchange messages about “sexual fantasies” for the rest of the school year, documents state.
He once offered the second victim a ride home and suggested they “do something” sexual in nature in the vehicle, charging documents say. She declined. The two then stopped communicating.
More recently, Bero taught at Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg. There are no allegations of abuse related to Bero’s time teaching at Watkins Mill.
Last year, he unsuccessfully ran against incumbent Rep. David Trone in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s Sixth District seat.
Bero had been placed on administrative as of August 2020 following his arrest. A spokesperson for the school system did not immediately respond to an email from Bethesda Beat on Friday asking about his current employment status.
Bero’s attorney, Rene Sandler, wrote in a statement to Bethesda Beat on Friday that “Mr. Bero and his family appreciate the judge’s recognition of his commitment to treatment over the past 14 months.”
“By sentencing Mr. Bero at the low end of the sentencing guidelines, Mr. Bero has the opportunity to return to society after serving his sentence to resume his treatment,” she wrote.
Judge David Boynton sentenced Bero to 50 years with all but 8 years suspended on Friday, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office. After his release, he will be on supervised probation for five years and must remain a registered sex offender for life.
In a statement, State’s Attorney John McCarthy wrote that the sentence was “appropriately lengthy.”
“Maxwell Bero used his role as a teacher to establish trust with these victims and groom them for abuse. He will be held accountable for his actions and will remain on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life,” McCarthy said in the statement.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org