The ex-Gilman School teacher charged with sexually abusing a student spoke out Tuesday afternoon, saying he’s innocent and that Gilman and Baltimore County authorities are defaming his character.
The comments from Christopher Bendann came after a Baltimore County judge set a Dec. 14 trial date, and were his first beyond a social media post earlier this year in which he called the allegations false. He and defense attorney Kobie Flowers had strong words for county prosecutors, Gilman School and even the alleged victim.
“Gilman and Baltimore [County] have done their best to defame my character, to make my former students question my relationships with them,” Bendann said. “And that’s what hurts the most. That there are hundreds of children that are now questioning every positive experience that they’ve had with me and wondering about my intentions.
“I want to assure those students that I’ve never had any ill intentions towards them, only thought the best toward them, and still think highly of them.”
Bendann, who worked at the private, all-boys school from 2007 until this year, is facing charges of sexual abuse of a minor, sexual solicitation of a minor, rape and related offense of a former student starting in the eighth or ninth grade, accusations that would date to 2016 and 2017.
The former student told police that the alleged sex acts happened at “several different houses” where Bendann was housesitting, as well as at two of Bendann’s residences. Sex acts also allegedly occurred in Bendann’s vehicle in Ruxton and in a McDonald’s parking lot in Timonium where Bendann would pressure the teenager “to expose himself.”
Gilman fired Bendann in January after the school said it learned of “several instances of inappropriate contact” with students off school property, including providing alcohol to children and where the school said he “requested the children remove their clothing and run around the location naked in front of him.”
At the time Bendann was arrested, Steve Silverman, an attorney for the alleged victim, said the allegations were the “tip of the iceberg.”
But Flowers, Bendann’s attorney, said his client has faced no additional charges or allegations. The FBI has yet to examine almost 20 hard drives and devices seized from Bendann’s home.
“We now stand some five, six months later and there is only one complaining witness. ... and that complaining witness has several reasons to be less than honest. We expect to show that in court,” Flowers said.
He declined to discuss specifics of his expected trial strategy. But he later suggested that Silverman’s involvement foreshadowed a lawsuit against Gilman and said the allegations represented a money-grab.
Silverman said he represents the alleged victim as a victim’s rights attorney, and there’s been no civil lawsuit or demand filed against Gilman.
Bendann, who is free from pretrial detention but on 24-7 home lockdown, said he was terrified when a SWAT team raided his home, and he says police have mischaracterized items they found at the home. He said police noted pictures of students in his home, but said there were none “that I wouldn’t be proud of any of my family members to see.” He said other pictures were photos of himself as a child and with family members.
“If there was anything explicit or inappropriate, they would’ve reported that fact,” Bendann said. “The result is, they’ve been trying to mischaracterize me from the beginning of this.”