Carroll County Public Schools has confirmed that they have terminated a contract with Together We Own It effective on March 2, 2023. The contract with Together We Own It was signed on July 1, 2022 and began on September 1, 2022 and was scheduled to run through August 31, 2023.
The Communications Office for the school system was unable provide any additional details on why the contract was terminated to The Observer at this time.
The Observer has learned that Katie Speert (Founder and Executive Director of Together We Own It) was the subject of an investigation by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office for sexual solicitation of a minor (offense noted in the public documents – see link below), however criminal charges are not being pursued in the case. The case was investigated from mid January 2023 – mid February 2023.
The documents obtained by The Carroll County Observer (via a Public Information Act Request – PIA) revealed allegations of sexting conversations with a female minor (at the time of the incident). Interviews in the PIA document noted the following statements from an interviewee:
- “asked about her previous sexual experiences”
- “asked if she has ever used vibrators or what she got out of the sexting conversation”
- “asked her to engage in sexual activity during the sexting conversation”
- “she was having sex dreams about her and that is what lead to the sexting conversation”
- “she does not have the messages between her and (redacted) anymore because (redacted) told her to delete them, so she did”
- “she never engaged in any sexual activity with (redacted)
- “told her the sexting conversation was her graduation present and she would get more when she turns (redacted) years old”
- “she felt like she was not in a relationship with (redacted)”
Those are just a few of the statements from one interviewee, you can view the entire set of statements in the PIA document linked below.
While the names of the individuals have been redacted in the PIA document, The Observer has been informed (from multiple credible sources) that the subject of the investigation was Katie Speert (Founder and Executive Director of Together We Own It).
View the full 10 pages from the Public Information Request here:
Information on the offense: In Maryland, sexual solicitation of a minor occurs anytime someone commands, urges, entices, requests, authorizes or advises a child to have sexual relations. The solicitation may occur over the Internet, on the phone, in person, by mail or through a third person. The law stipulates that no one can “knowingly solicit” a minor to engage in any activity that would be illegal for the child to participate in, including sex. SOURCE…and the actual law here: LEARN MORE
The Observer reached out to Katie Speert and had a short phone conversation about the information on hand on March 27th. The Observer then shared the PIA document above with Katie. Katie provided the following statement via email for this article:
- Thank you for reaching out about this matter. I was made aware of the complaint made to Child Protective Services. I was not, interviewed by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department during any part of their investigation. I was unaware that there was an investigation going on until it was closed. The statements you have shared from the Sheriff’s Office reflect a one-sided story of an investigation that was closed as unfounded.
The following statement was provided from the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office related to this case:
According to the Chief of our Special Victims Unit, it was reported that the Victim was a volunteer at Together We Own It at the age of 17. During the time in which she volunteered there, she became close with Executive Director Katie Speert, who was several years older than her, as well as being in a position of power. Victim and Ms. Speert engaged in “sexting,” in which Ms. Speert communicated about extremely inappropriate topics. Messages were exchanged back and forth over Instagram. Those messages, at the request of Ms. Speert, were deleted by victim. Victim did not report the incidents until she learned recently that they were highly inappropriate.
The only crime that would apply to a situation such as this one would be Sexual Solicitation of a Minor under MD Criminal Art. 3-324. However, the title of the section is a bit deceiving. CR 3-324 reads in pertinent part:
Prohibited.- A person may not, with the intent to commit a violation of § 3-304, § 3-306, or § 3-307 of this subtitle or § 11-304, § 11-305, or § 11-306 of this article, knowingly solicit a minor, or a law enforcement officer posing as a minor, to engage in activities that would be unlawful for the person to engage in under § 3-304, § 3-306, or § 3-307 of this subtitle or § 11-304, § 11-305, or § 11-306 of this article.
Required under the section is a solicitation by a person to a minor to commit any of a series of acts under 6 specific sections. However, when we look at each section referenced, we must understand that the age of consent in Maryland is 16 years of age. Therefore 3-304 (Rape 2), 3-306 (Sex 2), and 3-307 (Sex 3) would not apply, as they all contemplate crimes where victims are BELOW the age of 16. 11-304, 11-305, and 11-306 regard prostitution and child abduction, and have no application to these allegations.
As the victim was 17 years old at the time of the communications, although they were highly immoral and morally repugnant, Ms. Speert did not commit a criminal act. Had the victim been below the age of 16, (even if she had been 15 years and 364 days old) the analysis would have been totally different.
On February 16, 2023 this case was closed (per the PIA documents noted above).
On March 2, 2023 CCPS terminated (early) the contract with Together We Own It (as noted above in the article)
On March 11, 2023 Together We Own It shared a social media post from Katie Speert noting that she was taking a “…partial sabbatical to recharge, spend time with my family, and work on my research”. See post here: https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWeOwnIt/posts/pfbid022jGMPDoy1d8LW6tvNyNCCRserdDEDKMP8V1233ED2Y4HSCJrATNh9PBwG8JZrwU1l?__cft__=AZWvLDzBW0cxJNC8osGDbll89DLtaUXP2JRN3_Xnzm_Q96bAMmVFpssOINxSx0HSQ8O9rLfqVAP8OEZ0UEc6AC2xWcvNuxkWygr7hC7sbQaKRwitimHJr0HRNQArpi_Im-s8skjHPm0yWze-90BMbrBS9b20F8aYQTDdiYUHlaXC3zfCUMu3547494k2jD39nRo&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R
About Together We Own It from their website: Today, Together We Own It serves over 700 children, youth and families each year, primarily in Carroll County, Maryland. They strive to foster a sense of connection between youth and their community by connecting people and resources, mentoring, providing educational enrichment, and recreational empowerment.
Some Background about Katie Speert from previous articles on The Carroll County Observer:
Katie Speert may be a name you have read about here on The Observer as she was a candidate for Carroll County Board of Education in 2022 (Article: https://carrollcountyobserver.com/2022/04/20/carroll-county-board-of-education-candidate-profile-videos-from-the-community-media-center/). Katie Speert dropped out of that race during the 2022 Primary (Article: Katie Speert withdraws from the Carroll County Board of Education race in 2022: https://carrollcountyobserver.com/2022/06/08/katie-speert-withdraws-from-the-carroll-county-board-of-education-race-in-2022/) noting in the video announcement: Together We Own It has a chance to receive funding though a partnership with the school system. She felt like this funding would provide a conflict of interest and as such she left the race for Board of Education in 2022 during the Primary Election.
The Observer has published an article (2024 Carroll County Board of Education Candidate Tracker: https://carrollcountyobserver.com/2023/02/22/2024-carroll-county-board-of-education-candidate-tracker/) noting a number of candidates that may run for the two open BOE seats in 2024. Katie Speert was originally listed as a “Possible Candidate” due to the active campaign finance entity that was started in the 2022 campaign cycle and the fact that the account has remained an active account through early 2023.
There are many more items to cover with this story (including more from the school system and Together We Own It) and The Carroll County Observer will be working with Ethan Reese from Maryland Muckraker to bring you more information as we obtain it from a variety of sources.
- Westminster youth nonprofit founder named suspect in alleged sexual solicitation of a minor:
The individual (Katie Speert) has not been judged for the accusations noted above in a court of law and is therefore presumed innocent of the accusations until proven guilty.