Mark Williams a former teacher at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. encouraged some of his underage female students for sexual relationships, although he has never been charged before. Williams worked as the head of the school’s Literary Media and Communications Department. His name has never been made public until now.
The NBC 4 I-Team conducted an investigation, looking into the allegations after the complaints were made to the school, the school district, and police, in 2004 and 2018. They spoke with two women who attended the school nearly 15 years apart and are now sharing their stories for the first time. Two young women expressed that the close relationships and openness made by Williams, helped him groom them for sexual relationships while they were his students.
“It ruins your whole life, it ruins it,” said the first woman, who graduated in 2005. “I really trusted the people who worked there a lot, and it upsets me that nothing about this was really taken seriously.”
The News 4 I-Team had spoken with seven former students who claimed Williams was known for developing one-on-one mentoring relationships with his young writers. One young woman stated she was drawn to him and his program before her junior year. Since she transferred to the program, she says he told her she needed extra help to catch up to her peers.
“There’s like a certain level of shame that will keep silence going on for a very long time,” said the second woman.
The first young woman, who is now 34, stated she was drawn to him and his program before her junior year. After transferring to his program, she says he told her she needed extra help to catch up to her peers.
“He wanted me to come by myself to his classroom/office where he would be alone,” she said. “He thought I was this brilliant, talented writer, and I thought the world of him.”
The relationship began to develop more after late-night phone calls and texts almost every night. Then Williams began sending her writings of his own, of a sexual nature, she said. It started to get sexual once Williams asked her to write more and more personal, intimate details about her life.
“Describing in very graphic detail himself and another woman … and he really wanted to know what I thought about them,” she recalled.
— Duke Ellington School of the Arts (@DukeEllingtonDC) January 24, 2022
In the report, the woman’s mother once over an inappropriate conversation between her daughter, who was then a teenager, and Williams, who is a married man with children. The woman’s mother then reported the incident to the principal who then reported Williams to MPD and the school district which for him placed on administrative leave. The first woman told the I-Team she did not tell anyone that Williams was under investigation for their illicit relationship.
She went on to deny the relationship and as Williams returned back to the school, they continued sleeping with each other well into her college years. Their affair ended in 2008.
The first woman said she never thought about coming forward until she learned there was nothing particularly special about her relationship with Williams and that there could be other former students with similar experiences.
“He invited me to take a playwriting class with him,” the second woman told the I-Team. She, too, was encouraged by Williams to write about intimate details of her life, and he did the same.
Similar to the first woman, their sexual encounters often transpired in his car or in a motel room. The second woman said the relationship lasted about two years. She later told her ex-boyfriend from high school about it and he sent an email entitled ‘Mark Williams is a Rapist and Predator’ that he sent to “100 school leaders, teachers, and former students,” the outlet writes.
“I was not at the point where I felt like I could do it for myself. So, while I really did not appreciate how it was done at the time, I think ultimately it was the right thing to do,” she said.
In 2018, following the mass email, Williams was once again placed on administrative leave and reported to the school district and police for investigation. The email did not mention the woman’s name, so she was never contacted by police or questioned, and it appears the accusations about Williams in the email were not properly investigated.
Williams resigned in January 2019 and has never been charged with any crime.
“I feel like they didn’t try very hard,” said the woman of law enforcement’s handling of the case. “Does that mean it ends because you can’t [find me] … there’s still a victim to be found.”
When the ex-boyfriend, who also considered Williams a mentor, confronted him directly via email, Williams reportedly responded, “I have cancer. Please leave me be.”
The first woman is now suing the school and the school district for violating Title IX, “a federal education law which requires a full investigation and protections for victims,” the outlet writes.