The Maryland middle school aide and track coach accused of assaulting young boys and making child pornography was an aspiring fashion stylist who appeared on a reality TV show, a college classmate and six other people who knew him say.
Carlos Deangelo Bell, 30, was a contestant on the short-lived CBS show "The Job." He competed, unsuccessfully, in an episode that aired in 2013 for an editorial assistant position at Cosmopolitan magazine.
"Cosmo could definitely change my life," he said in a promotional video for the show, wearing a pair of handcuffs dangling on a necklace.
A woman who says she and Bell were friends at Bowie State University recalled that Bell was in a fashion club in college.
"He did a few fashion shows at the school," said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she did not want to be affiliated with the case.
Numerous parents and students at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School in Waldorf, Maryland, identified Bell in videos and images from the reality show.
Student athlete Adriana Williams, who ran track for Bell for two years, recognized him.
"He said that he used to, like, dress Rihanna and just dress, like, Kanye West and pick out outfits and stuff like that," she said.
"I never believed him," she added.
The child, like many people who knew Bell, was having trouble believing the man they knew was accused of heinous crimes.
"I was surprised. I didn't think Mr. Bell would do something like that," she said.
A bio of Bell that appears on CBS's website lists Bell's career highlights as "Italian Vogue, French Vogue and Kanye West video."
A representative for West did not respond to an inquiry.
Neither CBS nor the production company behind "The Job," Embassy Row, responded to inquiries about Bell. His family also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Fans of the TV show rooted for Bell online when it aired.
A mother who worked with Bell on a community athletics program in Prince George's County immediately recognized Bell in video from "The Job."
He now is accused of "horrifying" crimes, Charles County school superintendent Kimberly Hill said Monday.
Bell, who told police he is HIV positive, is accused of victimizing at least 10 boys and creating child pornography on school grounds, Charles County police and prosecutors say. A video found on one of Bell's electronic devices appears to show him having sex with a child inside a classroom at Stoddert Middle School, police said.
The victim, all boys, were "mostly middle schoolers and preadolescent students," Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry said.
Bell was arrested Friday and is being held without bond.
He graduated from Henry E. Lackey High School in Indian Head, Maryland, in 2005, a school department spokeswoman confirmed.
He enrolled at Bowie State in 2005 and studied sociology, but left after two years, a university spokeswoman said.
Then, he got an internship at GQ magazine in New York, he told the website Fashionista.com for a profile the site published about his appearance on "The Job."
"I traveled back and forth for two-and-a-half weeks on the bus because I didn't have enough money to actually move to New York," he told the site.
GQ did not respond to an inquiry.
By the time Bell was on "The Job," he was living in Harlem, he said in the promotional video for the show.
Police say Bell worked at several schools and youth organizations in Maryland as early as fall 2008 and as recently as December 2016.
An acquaintance of Bell's who said he last saw him about a year ago said Bell was working on photo shoots in the Washington, D.C. area as well.
Parents of children who ran with Bell said they were shocked by the assault and child pornography charges he now faces.
"I hope he gets the punishment he deserves," one mother said.
Parents are holding a prayer vigil Thursday night outside Stoddert Middle School.