W.T. Chipman teacher charged with sex offenses

HARRINGTON — A 63-year-old Felton man was charged with sex offenses for alleged improper touching of students while teaching at W.T. Chipman Middle School, Harrington Police spokesman Capt. Earl K. Brode said.

Richard C. Ford turned himself in to authorities on Friday and was charged with two counts each of unlawful sexual contact where the victim is under 13 and second-degree sexual abuse of a child by a person of trust, and one count of offensive touching.

According to police, a parent claimed in January that her daughter was inappropriately touched during a fitness class. An investigation commenced and two other females were identified as possible victims, Capt. Brode said.

Richard C. Ford

The students allegedly involved were 11 and 12 years old, police said. The Child Advocacy Center and Department of Justice assisted the investigation.

A Harrington PD school resource officer was initially contacted about concerns on Jan. 22, a probable cause affidavit said. Mr. Ford was suspended by the Lake Forest School District that day, documents said.

On Friday, Lake Superintendent Dr. Brenda Wynder said Mr. Ford would remain on leave with pay status until the matter is resolved. Capt. Brode said the school district was cooperative throughout the investigation.

Authorities were told during interviews that offenses allegedly occurred in a vestibule area during the school day and in an after-school fitness program, according to the affidavit. One alleged incident took place during the first marking period between August and October of last year, authorities were told.

Mr. Ford was arraigned via video phone through Justice of the Peace Court 2 in Rehoboth Beach. A $10,100 unsecured bond was issued along with a no contact order with students allegedly involved. Mr. Ford was released pending a July 26 preliminary hearing.

A not guilty plea was entered on the misdemeanor offensive touching charge.

The investigation continues and Harrington Police ask anyone with information to call 398-4493, Ext. 46.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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