Annapolis, MD -- Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Wes Adams announced today that Conner Charles Prout, 19, of Crofton, pleaded guilty to the charge of Race/Religious Belief--Harras/Commit a Crime Upon and was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Michael Wachs to 120 hours of community service to be completed under the direction of the Anne Arundel County NAACP.
"We cannot tolerate any attempts to generate division within our community, especially when these acts affect our children," said Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Wes Adams. "Although the hurt felt by those who witnessed the noose cannot be undone, I appreciate that Mr. Prout is accepting responsibility for his actions. The ability to come together and fashion a positive resolution to such a deplorable incident speaks volumes to our community's commitment to moving forward toward equality."
On May 11, 2017, Anne Arundel County Police responded to Crofton Middle School for a report of a crime evidently motivated by racial prejudice. Upon arrival, the assistant principal informed police that a noose was found hanging from a light post in the courtyard of the school. The noose was visible from within the building.
Students alerted faculty to the presence of the noose, and it was removed by the maintenance manager at approximately 10:50 AM. News of the incident spread across the campus throughout the day. It upset multiple students, causing several to leave and others to seek support from the school's guidance counselor.
Security footage from the morning of May 11th shows Prout and a second man approaching the front of the school at approximately 12:50 AM. At approximately 1:40 AM, Prout and the second man are seen going to the roof of the school. They are in possession of the rope that was eventually tied into a noose and hung on a light post in the inner courtyard of the building.
Police posted photos from the security footage to social media, and received multips tips identifying the suspect as Conner Prout. When police responded to Prout's residence, the defendant identified himself as the man captured on the security footage.
"Our school system's quest to Elevate All Students and Eliminate All Gaps is predicated on the mission that all must mean all," Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. George Arlotto said. "The diversity of our communities is what makes us great, and we support any effort that thwarts attempts to tear us apart instead of bring us all together."
Prout was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 3 years in prison, and 18 months of supervised probation. In addition to the standard conditions of probation, Prout is to complete 120 hours of community service under the direction of the NAACP. This sentence was fashioned in collaboration with Rev. Stephen A. Tillett, president of the Anne Arundel County NAACP.
The second defendant charged in relation to this incident is set to go to trial on October 19, 2017.
Judge Michael Wachs presided over the case. State's Attorney Wes Adams and Assistant State's Attorney Tamara O'Connell prosecuted the case on behalf of the citizens of Anne Arundel County.