This morning, the security team leader at Richard Montgomery High School (RMHS) was arrested by detectives from the Montgomery County Police Department – Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID). Mark Christopher Yantsos, age 57, who lives on Warfield Drive, has been accused of having inappropriate contact with a 17-year-old female student at the school.
The Montgomery County Department of Police has released information about the case. On Monday, April 3, 2017, SVID detectives were notified by school officials that a Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) employee had engaged in an ongoing sexual relationship with a student at the high school where he worked.
MCPS placed Yantsos on administrative leave as soon as it learned of these allegations. The Special Victims Investigations Division of MCPD requested that details not be shared broadly with the community until now. This was to avoid prejudicing the ongoing investigation.
SVID detectives interviewed the victim who told investigators that she met Yantsos while she was a student at RMHS and he was working as part of the school security team at the school. The victim stated that Yantsos befriended her in 2016 and purchased multiple gifts for her since that time. In March of 2017, Yantsos bought the victim a phone in order to communicate with her during and after school hours.
According to police, the victim stated that on March 3, 2017 at approximately 10 PM, Yantsos drove to her home, picked her up, and drove her to a hotel in Rockville where he engaged in inappropriate contact with her.
Investigators were provided with copies of inappropriate text messages that Yantsos had recently sent to the victim.
Yantsos was arrested this morning at his home on the strength of a Montgomery County criminal warrant, charging him with sexual abuse of a minor and a fourth-degree sex offense. His bail was set at $75,000 and he is currently at the Montgomery County Detention Center. A preliminary hearing has been set for May 5, 2017 in the District Court of Maryland.
A statement from the principal of RMHS, Damon Monteleone, has been sent to parents. In the message, he reassures parents that MCPS has been fully cooperating with Child Protective Services, the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office on this matter.
“The allegations described in the charging documents are despicable and represent an irreparable breach of trust, ethics and the law,” wrote Monteleone, “We do not and will not tolerate this behavior in our school.”
A support team of school psychologists and counselors from MCPS will be at the school to provide counseling and support to students as needed.
Mr. Yantsos has been employed with MCPS since 2007. Yantsos often explained that he moved to the Rockville area at that time after serving as a New York City police officer. In addition to his role with the security team, he served as Richard Montgomery High School’s girls’ varsity basketball coach during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons.
Superintendent of MCPS, Jack Smith, released a statement which explained, “Additionally, it has come to our attention that in 1994, Mr. Yantsos was accused of using his revolver to menace a female while working for the New York Police Department. We have provided this information to the police.”
Smith emphasized that “the safety of our students is paramount.” Before explaining that in 2015, the Montgomery County Board of Education updated its policy regarding child abuse and neglect to include:
– updated mandatory training of all full-time employees on recognizing and reporting child abuse; and
– the development of the Employee Code of Conduct, a document that summarizes the standards of conduct that MCPS and the broader community expect employees to follow.
Detectives are requesting that parents of students who attend Richard Montgomery High School talk to their children about their interactions with Yantsos and contact SVID detectives at 240-773-5400 if they believe their child was victimized.