Explosive sounds ricocheted around North Baltimore’s Homeland neighborhood early this morning as FBI agents arrested the former Gilman School teacher, Christopher Kenji Bendann, who was previously charged by Baltimore County in February with abusing a student.
Bendann, 39, was charged with five federal counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one alleging possession of child pornography. The indictment was returned on Wednesday and unsealed today, according to Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron.
Last January, The Brew broke the story of Bendann’s firing by Gilman School over “inappropriate out-of-school conduct” with students. Two weeks later, he was charged with the rape and sexual abuse of a minor by Baltimore County prosecutors.
The FBI was subsequently said to be examining nearly 20 electronic devices seized from the former teacher.
Today’s indictment appears to show what allegedly was found on them.
Cellphone videos “depicting the minor victim’s genitals” and “depicting the defendant touching the minor victim’s genitals” are described in the indictment.
“Between September 16, 2017, and February 9, 2019, the defendant persuaded, induced, enticed and coerced a minor victim to engage in sexually explicit conduct so that a visual depiction of that conduct could be produced and transmitted,” prosecutors said in a news release.
“Further, the indictment alleges that Bendann possessed child sexual abuse material between September 1, 2017, and January 23, 2023,” the release said.
If convicted, Bendann faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for each of the five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography.
Bendann had his initial appearance today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore before Magistrate Judge Brendan Hurson.
Hurson ordered that Bendann be detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for Monday at 10:00 a.m. The detention hearing will be held before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson.
SWAT Team with Flash Grenades
No one answered the door this morning at the house where Bendann was residing on home detention, but workers were putting up a large piece of plywood on a broken front-facing window there.
A shattered wooden window frame with jagged glass was lying in the grass.
A nearby neighbor said he heard two loud explosion sounds sometime between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.
“I heard something loud go off, twice,” Richard Carey told The Brew. “I didn’t know what it was.”
A source told The Brew that a SWAT team, using flash grenades, descended on the house – Bendann’s parents’ home – and executed the arrest warrant.
Asked for comment on Bendann’s early-morning arrest and the federal charges, his attorney Kobie Flowers responded in an email, “who told you about the arrest?” and “the detention hearing is on Monday at 10.”
Bendann was already facing the Baltimore County charges that include sexual abuse of a minor, rape and perverted practice.
A teacher at the Roland Avenue private school from 2007 to 2023, Bendann is accused of sexually abusing a former student between 2016 and 2019 and maintains his innocence.
The Gilman School discharged Bendann in January saying in an email to the school community that he engaged in “inappropriate out-of-school conduct” with students.
In February, when prosecutors and lawyers for Bendann sparred over whether Bendann should be released on home confinement, the attorney for the alleged victim called him a threat, predicting that additional “scores of victims” would come forward.
Bendann continued to held at the Baltimore County Detention Center, but was eventually released by a judge, following a hearing in which more than a dozen friends and family members appeared in a show of support.
Standing in front of the county courthouse, Bendann spoke out earlier this month, proclaiming his innocence and denouncing the school and prosecutors for defaming him.
“We now stand some five, six months later and there is only one complaining witness,” Flowers said, standing with his client by his side.
Their comments came after a Baltimore County judge had set a December 14 trial date for the case.