This article’s headline was updated at 4:40 p.m. to clarify that McNeary was employed by 480 Club at a DHHS-funded school-based wellness center and was not an MCPS employee.
A former contractor from Watkins Mill High School’s wellness center was arrested in Gaithersburg this week on charges of committing sexual acts with a student he counseled, according to police records.
On Tuesday, Montgomery County Police arrested and charged 24-year-old Clarence Maurice McNeary III with two counts of fourth-degree sexual offense for engaging in a sexual act with a minor victim who was a student at the school where he was employed in a position of authority.
McNeary served as a youth development specialist at Watkins Mill High’s wellness center, according to charging documents from the State’s Attorney’s Office. The police investigation began Dec. 13 after a 16-year-old victim alleged that McNeary had sexually abused her in the wellness center on multiple occasions, court records show.
According to the statement of charges, the victim disclosed that she first contacted McNeary seeking counseling services and that they began talking and texting regularly—but that two months into the school year, their relationship turned sexual.
She told police that she and McNeary would meet in the wellness center before school started, where McNeary would allegedly force her to her knees and perform sex acts on him until she gagged, the charging detective wrote.
Last year the school district presented McNeary with a distinguished service award for his work as a youth development specialist at Watkins Mill. A May 2022 staff bulletin from MCPS provides more information about the winners, reading as follows:
“Mr. McNeary has strived to provide positive youth development and services to more than 100 students each year, focusing on African American males. Mr. McNeary implemented curriculum-based programs such as goal setting, leadership, sexual health and Black male empowerment. He played a vital part in the student ambassador program that provided stipends for students to take a leadership role in food insecurity and vaccination clinic outreach.”
MCPS “was not aware of the arrest,” spokesperson Jessica Baxter told MoCo360 in an email on Thursday.
“This is considered a personnel matter, but I can confirm he is no longer employed by MCPS,” she wrote.
Watkins Mill is home to one of five school-based wellness centers currently run by the county’s Department of Health and Human Services at public schools across the district. The other four centers are located at Northwood, Gaithersburg, Wheaton and Seneca Valley High Schools. A local nonprofit called Identity currently operates four of those wellness centers, including Watkins Mill.
Identity representative Carolyn Camacho confirmed to MoCo360 in an email that “since the accusation, Mr. McNeary has not been providing services” at the wellness center. She wrote that McNeary was a contractor with 480 Club and was never employed directly by Identity, but she did not expound on how long he had been working at the Watkins Mill center.
480 Club is a nonprofit group that contracts with Identity to provide services to students and families at the MCPS wellness centers. According to the organization’s website, all its youth development specialists are “Advanced Youth Development, HIPAA, Child Abuse & Neglect, Trauma Informed trained.” Additionally, “All staff members have positive fingerprints & background checks.”
480 Club founder and director Joseph Hooks told MoCo360 in an email that McNeary’s contract was “terminated immediately” in December 2022 when the accusations first came to light.
“480 Club takes all allegations seriously and complies annually with MCPS background checks,” Hooks wrote. “Due to the open investigation and pending court date 480 Club has no further comment until this case completely [is] adjudicated.”
McNeary began working with 480 Club as a program manager in Gaithersburg in April 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile. The online profile asserts that he previously worked part-time as a recreation assistant with the county government and spent eight months as a paid intern with the State’s Attorney’s Office in 2016.
MoCo360 made unsuccessful attempts to reach McNeary for comment on Thursday. The State’s Attorney’s Office was unable to provide contact information for his attorney.
In years past, McNeary also served as a counselor at a free summer sports camp for fifth through eighth graders run by Identity and 480 Club, according to a 2018 report by WUSA9.
“There is a forgotten demographic of young people that just need to be shown that they matter,” McNeary told WUSA9 at the time.
In Maryland, a fourth-degree sex offense prohibits someone from engaging in sexual contact with a student enrolled at a school where the person is employed in a position of authority. It is classified as a misdemeanor charge and carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison, a $1,000 fine or both. If convicted, the defendant must be listed in the state sex offender registry for 15 years.
McNeary made his first court appearance in Montgomery County District Court on Tuesday represented by a private attorney, according to legal records, and was released on bond. A trial date is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 1 in district court, case records show.