The horror in the Greenspring home did not surface until last March, when a 17-year-old who lived through it cried out for help. "I hate life. I hate school. I hate people. I hope I die, soon. . .!" she scribbled on a school exam.
Yesterday, her parents pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court to rape and sexual child abuse charges stemming from the nine years in which the 17-year-old and two older sisters, now in their 20s, were beaten and raped by their father.
Assistant State's Attorney Wanda Keyes Robinson said the girls' mother took them to their father in his bedroom beginning in 1981. The mother sometimes turned her back and ignored the girls' cries. Other times she pretended to sleep during the assaults.
The rapes resulted in 10 pregnancies, Robinson said. In each instance, the girls were taken by their mother to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, where Dr. Julio C. Novoa performed 10 abortions on the girls.
"The insinuation never came up that these pregnancies were the result of incestuous relationships," Novoa said in an interview afterward. "As a matter of fact, I was in charge of the rape clinic at GBMC for seven years and there are many signs of rape that can be identified. We don't ask most of these kids, 'Who impregnated you?' That is not the business of the physician."
The names of the parents are being withheld to protect the identities of the daughters.
Under the plea agreement, the father, 43, agreed to three consecutive life sentences and must serve 30 years. He will be formally sentenced Dec. 7 by Judge Kenneth Lavon Johnson.
The mother, also 43, agreed to a 25-year sentence and must serve 15 years. She will be formally sentenced Dec. 6.
At the request of the victims, Robinson asked the judge to prohibit the father from any future contact with the young women.
"Sir, you'll have to stay away for the rest of your natural life," the judge said. "It's a sad day for all concerned."
In a handwritten confession signed by the father last March 22, he told police he began fondling the girls when they were about five or six years old. He said he first had sex with one of the girls when she was 10 and with the other two when they were 12. He is the biological father of the younger girl only.
The father told police he abused marijuana and cocaine "on most, if not all, of those occasions" when the girls were raped. And he said that as a teen-ager he was sexually abused by an older man who used money and liquor to lure him and other boys.
The rapes occurred at various addresses around Baltimore, prosecutors said. The family moved a lot. It was the father's way of keeping "control" of his daughters by preventing them from making friends, prosecutors said.
Robinson said the girls, who often tried to fight their father's advances, were sometimes "beat into submission."
The rapes were a family secret until the 17-year-old daughter scribbled the note to a teacher last March 22. The teacher notified the city Department of Social Services, which notified police.
Robinson said the girl was "extremely traumatized" and that she "feared for her life."
"The reason she didn't tell anyone was that her mother was present [during some of the rapes] and she didn't know who to turn to," Robinson said.
The parents were later indicted on more than 60 counts of first-degree rape, sexual child abuse and other sex offenses. They pleaded guilty yesterday to the charges stemming from the rapes of January 1981 to November 1989.
The mother, after her arrest, told the older daughter in a letter that her father has confronted his "sickness" and that "with the help of Allah we could get through things." The mother said she did not want others to know about the "sickness," and that she did not want to raise seven children alone. The other children now live with relatives.
"I tried to justify my being aware of what was happening by saying that the kids are in a family unit, with a mother and a father, they are progressing well in school and neighbors and school officials all lauded us as a perfect family," the mother wrote.
For his part, the father also wrote his daughters after his arrest and asked for forgiveness. "I have a serious problem that needs help," he said in one letter. "I only wish I had been strong enough to seek help for myself before things got this far.
"I hope one day I will be able to be a part of your life in a decent and respectable way," he wrote in another. "Love Always, Dad."