Baltimore County police received their first allegation of child sex abuse against James S. Weems Sr. on July 3 — almost three weeks before his wife, the owner of an Owings Mills day care, shot him in a Washington, D.C. hotel.

But the alleged victim told police only that he had showed her pornography, not that he had abused her, and it would be 15 more days before a search warrant was served to seize and search Weems’ phone.

Weems, 57, a former Baltimore Police officer, is now charged with molesting three children — two girls and one boy — at his wife’s day care, where he worked for four years and drove a van. The case has attracted national attention and raised questions about whether Shanteari Weems took matters into her own hands because of a delay by police.

Her attorney Tony Garcia said she first learned of an investigation on July 18, when James Weems told her that police had contacted him about abuse allegations. On July 21, the day of the shooting, Shanteari Weems was told by a parent that James Weems had assaulted her child and she then travelled to Washington to confront him, Garcia said.

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James Weems appeared in court using a walker and was ordered held without bond on Tuesday, with prosecutors saying a broad investigation is being conducted that includes interviewing more than 90 children who had attended the daycare. Prosecutors also said they are attempting to access encrypted electronic devices and a security video at his home.

Assistant State’s Attorney Everett Bryant said at a bail review hearing that James Weems posed “an extreme risk to the public, especially to the most vulnerable population: the kids.”

Charging documents in the molestation case against James Weems lay out the following timetable:

  • On July 3, a family member of a 10-year-old girl told police that he observed her looking at pornography on a tablet. The girl told the relative that “Mr. James,” the bus driver at her day care, showed her where to find such videos. The family member said he asked the girl questions about Mr. James, and she said he had touched her private area and he had her perform a sex act.
  • The child was interviewed at the Baltimore County Child Advocacy Center, where she said the bus driver had shown her “a lot of videos.” When asked questions about sexual contact, the girl said Mr. James told her not to tell anybody and would not elaborate. “When asked open-ended questions about people inappropriately touching her, she stated that no one had touched her in a way that she did not like,” police wrote in charging documents.
  • Detectives identified “Mr. James” as James Weems from the day care. A search warrant was applied for on July 11, but it was not executed until July 18. A source said the Weemses were out of town on vacation.
  • Investigators found a pornographic website in Weems’ browsing history that matched the name of the site given by the child.
  • On July 21, a social services worker interviewed another child who attended that day care. That child, a 7-year-old boy, said a male employee had touched his private area under his clothes, but did not want to disclose who the employee was, “stating that the male employee told him that he would get in trouble.”
  • That night, James Weems was staying at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington, D.C. while working private security for the National Urban League’s convention when Shanteari Weems travelled there with a handgun. Earlier that day, she had been confronted by a parent of a child at the day care with allegations of abuse. She shot her husband in the neck and leg.

Garcia says the shooting was self-defense, saying James Weems moved aggressively toward her.

But D.C. prosecutors noted that police found a notebook in the hotel room with handwritten notes in which the author wrote that they wanted to shoot the victim and not kill him, but maybe cause paralysis, and that she “wanted these kids to get justice.” The notebook also included an informal will distributing belongings.

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Shanteari Weams is also being detained pending trial.

James Weems’ attorney, public defender A. Stewart Lyons, said James Weems had no prior or previously pending cases and the current accusations are “isolated in time.” Weems’ attorney said that if he is released on bail, that he will have no contact with any of the kids.

“I submit to the court that the charges and publicity has caused him to not seek any further gratification,” Lyons said. “There will be no chance for further criminal activity.”

Donald Jones, a friend of the Weems who recently went on vacation with them, attended the bail review and said he doesn’t believe that the charges presented against James Weems are true.

“We’re Marines, we protect with honor. We don’t victimize kids,” Jones said.

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A former employee who worked at the day care until 2018 previously told The Baltimore Banner that she noticed red flags. The employee requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

“I felt like he was a little too friendly with the children,” she said of James Weems. “A lot of parents didn’t trust him around their child.”

Several day care parents defended Shanteari Weems and said she went out of her way to help them.

Banner reporter Brenna Smith contributed to this article.

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