Mark Carpenter – Baby Raping Principal

A former assistant principal at Lee Road Junior High School pleaded guilty Monday to raping a 6-year-old girl and possessing child pornography.

Mark Carpenter, 54, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for raping the girl in 1986, before he was hired by the St. Tammany Parish school system.

Carpenter, of the Covington area, was arrested at the Lee Road school on Oct. 8, 2007, and taken to the St. Tammany Parish jail after questioning. He resigned as assistant principal the next day.

He was accused of sexually abusing the girl for 10 years, from the time she was 6 years old until she was 16, authorities said. The victim is now 27.

Carpenter was originally charged with aggravated rape, which can carry a sentence of life in prison, but Ronnie Gracianette, chief of trials for the parish district attorney’s office, said Monday that the victim and her family were happy with the plea agreement.

State Judge Elaine Dimiceli sentenced Carpenter to 30 years for the forcible rape charge, without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. He received five years for the child pornography charge. The sentences will run at the same time.

The maximum sentence for forcible rape is 40 years. Possession of child pornography is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison.

The day after his arrest, school officials sent students home with a letter assuring parents that the allegations had nothing to do with the school.

Carpenter joined St. Tammany Parish schools as a teacher at Lyon Elementary School in Covington during the 1997-98 school year.

He worked at Lyon Elementary for nine years before becoming parishwide assistant principal in 2006. He was assigned to Lee Road Junior High School in 2007, temporarily replacing an assistant principal who was on leave.

The incidents that led to Carpenter’s arrest came to light through the victim’s conversations with her family in 2007.

The week before Carpenter’s arrest, Anthony Vincent “Vince” Ularich III, 60, a former Slidell Pathways School special education teacher, was arrested and booked with 275 counts of possessing child pornography involving children 8 to 10 years old.

Ularich resigned from his teaching position the day before his Oct. 5, 2007, arrest. He immediately admitted possessing the images, authorities said, and pleaded guilty to the charges May 7. He was sentenced June 2 to seven years in prison.

Then in March, a former Slidell school janitor was booked with sexual assault. Dino Jay Schwertz, 42, of Slidell was booked with rapes of two 10-year-old boys at W.L. Abney Elementary, and Slidell police later booked him with additional sex crimes after more children came forward.

Schwertz was charged with nine counts of aggravated rape, two counts of child molestation and two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, in incidents police say occurred in the school bathroom over several weeks last fall.

He is in the St. Tammany jail in Covington awaiting trial.

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