Teacher Acquitted In Alleged Sex Abuse Case

SNOW HILL- Despite hours of testimony and mountains of evidence, a Stephen Decatur High School teacher charged in November with sexual abuse of a minor and sexual solicitation of a minor was acquitted in Worcester County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

In November, Decatur High School social studies teacher Austin Martin, 26, of Berlin was charged with sex abuse of a minor. According to the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI), it was reported Martin had engaged in a prolonged, inappropriate text communication with the 17-year-old female student.

During Martin’s trial on Tuesday, the alleged victim testified for over two hours, during which it was revealed she and Martin had exchanged 3,500 text messages and dozens of pictures. However, after the hours-long trial, Worcester County Circuit Court Judge William Simpson acquitted Martin on the grounds the offenses did not occur while the victim was in the “care, custody or control” of Martin, essentially opining the offenses did not occur on school grounds or during school hours.

After Martin was charged in November, he was put on administrative leave by the Worcester County School Board. On Wednesday, school board officials confirmed his employment with Worcester County Public Schools had been terminated in December.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.