St. Mary’s Detectives Arrest Xaverian Brother for Alleged 1978 Abuse of Male Student

LEONARDTOWN, Md. (August 31, 2007) - Detectives from the St. Mary's County Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) yesterday arrested a Xaverian Brother in Venice, Florida for child abuse and a sex offense against a 15-year-old high school student. The offenses allegedly took place almost 29 years ago in 1978, say police.

Philip Michael Spoekler, 64, of Venice, Florida, was arrested at the Manatee Community College, where he is currently a Biology and Science Teacher. Spoekler was taken into custody and charged with one count of Child Abuse and one count of 4th Degree Sex Offense. St. Mary's County detectives were assisted by the Venice, Florida Police Department.

Police say the charges stem from a five-month investigation which determined that while Spoekler was a Biology teacher at Ryken High School in Leonardtown, in 1978, he allegedly coaxed a 9th grade student, a 15-year-old male, into a storage room and fondled the child.

Ryken High School is a private Christian school that is sponsored by the Xaverian Brothers. The brotherhood was founded in 1839 in Belgium by Theodore James Ryken.

Spoekler is currently incarcerated at the Sarasota County Detention Center awaiting extradition back to St. Mary's County Maryland.

The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office has advised the media that they have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday, September 4, 2007 in Leonardtown to provide more information. Press conferences are typically only scheduled for the most extraordinary cases.

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