Child Abuse Convict Appeals, Says Trial Judge Erred

February 27, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

ANNAPOLIS — A 50-year-old Taneytown man serving 50 years in prison for sexually abusing his oldest daughter for a decade is appealing the case to the state Court of Special Appeals.

The appeal, filed by Westminster attorneys Stephen P. Bourexis and Judith Stainbrook, argues that Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck erred when he allowed the man's confession to police to be used as evidence against him in his March 1990 trial.

The man, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of his victim, was found guilty of six counts of bizarre and brutal sexual abuse that stretched from the time his oldest daughter was 8 until she turned 17 in 1977.

The abuse was revealed by the then-29-year-old daughter in June 1989 when she became despondent after learning that her father would be baby-sitting her 9-year-old niece, court records show.

The appeal claims that when the man went to Carroll Family and Children's Services for counseling and signed a waiver form that any information revealed under counseling could be turned over topolice, he believed he would not be prosecuted.

The man was coerced into confessing by the "improper influences" of his counselor and the state trooper who interviewed him at Family and Children's Services, the appeal states.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill also is named as a coercive influence because she advised the man to takethe counseling when he called her to ask her advice before he was arrested.

In a response to the appeal, filed by Assistant Attorney General Diane Krejsa last week, the state maintains the confession made to state police Cpl. Richard E. Norman was admissible in court because Norman did not coerce the man into making the statement.

The state also argues that Hill did not give the man any assurances that he would not be prosecuted if he sought counseling.

Arguments in the case are scheduled for sometime in May.

The man currently is serving his prison term at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.

Before handing down the lengthy sentence June 5, retired Judge Donald J. Gilmore told the man that his crimes were among the worst he ever heard in his courtroom.

After reading aloud a letter written bythe victim, Gilmore said he was deeply moved.

"This court has never read such a touching story or seen such a profound impact of a crime on a victim, short of death," the retired judge said.

Gilmore said he imposed the heavy sentence because he wanted to show people who sexually abuse children that they are never immune from prosecution, even if the abuse took place years before.

In December, the man and Bourexis appeared before Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. to ask to have the 50-year-sentence reduced.

The man also asked tobe moved to the Carroll County Detention Center to serve out his sentence.

Several of the man's family members told Burns they have had serious financial difficulties since the man went to jail that could be eased if he were placed on work release.

After hearing the man's request, Burns said he would issue his decision in writing. As of yesterday, no decision had been made.

If Burns does not reduce the sentence, the man could be eligible for parole after serving 10 years.

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