Baltimore County judge postpones trial for ex-Gilman School teacher accused of sex abuse

Assistant State’s Attorney John Magee said the FBI has yet to analyze almost 20 electronic devices that law enforcement seized in the investigation of Chris Bendann

Published 8/1/2023 11:55 a.m. EDT, Updated 8/1/2023 5:42 p.m. EDT

Chris Bendann, 39, exits the Baltimore County Courthouse in Towson with his legal team after a hearing on Tuesday, July 18, 2023. The former Gilman School teacher is accused of sexually abusing a student between 2016 and 2019, and was indicted on 16 counts including sexual abuse of a minor, rape and related offenses.

A Baltimore County judge on Tuesday postponed the upcoming trial of a former teacher at the Gilman School who’s accused of sexually abusing a student after prosecutors reported that the FBI has yet to analyze almost 20 electronic devices that law enforcement seized in the investigation.

Chris Bendann, 39, of Towson, had been scheduled to stand trial on Aug. 16 on charges of sexual abuse of a minor, sexual solicitation of a minor, rape and related offenses. He worked at the Gilman School, a private, independent, all-boys school in Roland Park in Baltimore, from 2007-2023.

The Gilman School earlier this year fired Bendann. Baltimore County Police arrested and charged him on Feb. 3. He’s accused of sexually abusing a student starting when he was about 15.

Circuit Judge Robert E. Cahill Jr. said he found that there was good cause to postpone the trial.

Assistant State’s Attorney John Magee asked for the continuance and stated that the FBI has yet to analyze three cellphones, four laptops, 10 flash drives and one camera that law enforcement seized during the investigation.

“It’s extremely relevant information,” Magee said. “There is good cause to grant one postponement.”

The Baltimore County Police Department, he said, does not have the resources to analyze the electronic devices as quickly as the FBI. Magee said the defense has filed motions and objections in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to thwart law enforcement from looking at them.

But Kobie Flowers, Bendann’s attorney, vigorously argued against the delay.

Flowers said he was reluctant to discuss the federal court proceedings, which remain under seal.

Prosecutors, he said, made the strategic decision to send the electronic devices to the FBI and “created this situation.” Flowers asserted that the state was hoping the federal government would uncover evidence to bring a child pornography case.

“This is not a case about what’s on the phones,” Flowers said. “It is literally a he said, he said case.”

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Bendann, he said, has had to sell his home and raid his retirement account to pay for counsel. Flowers said there’s a real possibility that Bendann will not be able to keep his defense team.

Plus, Flowers said, his client was prepared to call no fewer than nine witness at trial. They had cleared their schedules to prepare and testify in the case.

“There simply is no good cause,” Flowers said. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Later, Flowers asked the judge to modify the conditions of his client’s pretrial release.

Bendann, he said, is on 24/7 lockdown and has experienced health issues including a heart attack. Cahill did not immediately make a ruling and asked for further briefing on the subject.

Meanwhile, Cahill recently denied a request from Bendann to subpoena records from places including the Gilman School and the Calvert School, a private elementary and middle school for boys and girls in Tuscany-Canterbury in Baltimore.

But Cahill ruled that Bendann could subpoena investigative files of government officers who investigated the case.

Outside the courtroom, Steven Silverman, an attorney representing the man who reported that he’s a survivor of sexual abuse, called the decision “an appropriate ruling by the court under the circumstances.”

Bendann maintains his innocence. He posted a statement on his Facebook and Instagram accounts calling the allegations false and stating that he is one of the 3,337 people who have been wrongfully accused in the United States since 1989.

“Sadly in a court of public opinion, one is guilty until proven innocent,” Bendann said. “That is wrong. I know that many rumors have circulated about this case. While my accuser has had free reign to share his narrative through his lawyer, I will have my day in court and set the record straight.”

It’s unclear when Bendann is set to appear back in court.