Vague Dates Lead To Plea To Drop Sex Abuse Charge

June 19, 1991|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff writer

The lawyer for a Glenwood Middle School music teacher who has been charged with sexually abusing a 17-year-old student in 1981 argued yesterday that the charges should be dropped because prosecutors are unable to pinpoint the dates of the alleged crimes.

At a hearing Tuesday, defense attorney Jonathan Scott Smith said it will be impossibleto investigate the case and prepare a defense unless prosecutors provide more specific dates.

Charges were filed in January against Donald Barry Cohen, 45, of Columbia, after a Texas woman told county police that he had engaged in sexual acts with her in 1981, when both were at Centennial High School.

The woman claims the incidents occurred between March 1 and May 25 of that year, Assistant State's Attorney Lillian P. Clark said.

"It's almost an insurmountable hurdle to expect someone to investigate an occurrence in an 84-day time period," Smith said.

Smith cited a 1986 Maryland Court of Appeals case in which a child abuse indictment was dismissed because of failure to specify the date of the alleged offense.

He has requested that Judge James B. Dudley schedule a hearing to determine if the state has made every effort to obtain the dates of the alleged incidents.

Clark said the state has met the requirements of the 1986 case by providing the defense with a time frame with a beginning and an end.

Following numerous talks with the victim, Clark said the woman is unable to provide more detailsabout the time period in question.

The woman decided to file charges against Cohen last August of 1990 while visiting her parents in Howard County, said Detective Sandra Regler, a child and sexual abuse investigator with the county police.

It wasn't until 1988, after years of therapy, that the woman was able to tell her parents of the incidents with Cohen, Regler said.

Cohen was placed on administrative duty pending his trial, scheduled to start July 24.

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