- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 28, 2005

THURMONT, Md. — A sixth-grade teacher charged with stalking students and threatening to blow up her school said yesterday that the real perpetrator may be someone who was jealous of the attention showered on a local Little League all-star team.

Michelle L. Dohm was indicted by a Frederick County grand jury last Thursday on charges that she wrote a series of threatening notes in the fall, including some that began, “Tick tock, tick tock. Is it a bomb or is it a clock?” Prosecutors say some of the notes were written on Mrs. Dohm’s computer at Thurmont Middle School.

All four of the seventh-grade boys targeted by the bizarre notes were members of the Thurmont team that won the 2005 state Little League championship and reached the semifinals of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in August. One note referred to two players’ numbers.

Mrs. Dohm, 40, said she wasn’t particularly interested in the team because her 12-year-old son doesn’t play baseball. But she said emotions ran high in the Frederick County town of 6,000 as team members were chosen by players and coaches of Little League clubs in the community.

“It was a very big deal for the town this summer,” Mrs. Dohm told the Associated Press at her home.

She and her attorney Thomas C. Morrow theorized that the notes’ author was a disgruntled parent, or even a child whose youth was reflected in the nursery-rhyme cadence of the messages.

“The truth may ultimately find that it was not so much a conspiracy to get Michelle as just a rather juvenile prank that got out of hand,” Mr. Morrow said.

Mrs. Dohm, a petite woman with 18 years of teaching experience, has been on unpaid leave since Nov. 18. She said she learned that week that she was suspected of having written the notes. The first, on Sept. 28, was given to school administrators by Mrs. Dohm, who said she had received it from an anonymous woman outside the school. The last note appeared in the boys bathroom Nov. 21, after Mrs. Dohm was suspended.

She said the school is easily accessible to the public, and that she often forgets to log off her computer despite administrators’ admonitions to staffers to safeguard their passwords.

Mrs. Dohm is charged with nine felony counts of threatening to explode a destructive device and two misdemeanor counts of stalking. She said the charges, which carry penalties totaling up to 100 years in prison, have shaken her family. She and her husband, David, have two children.

“My life was just boring and fine. I didn’t ask for any of this to fall into my lap. I’m not angry with anybody. I have absolutely no reason to mess up the lifestyle I was leading,” she said.

Deputy State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith, who is prosecuting the case, said investigators haven’t finished gathering evidence but that the information he had presented to the grand jury was solid.

“They chose to indict, and we feel strongly that we’re going to be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, or we wouldn’t have brought it in the first place,” he said.

A hearing is set for Jan. 23.

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