Families Of Abused Accept Sentencing With Bitter Satisfaction

October 22, 1991|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

He flew up from Georgia for this, the moment when his son's molesterwalked out of the courtroom in handcuffs, headed for jail.

The 35-year-old man stood with arms crossed and glared at Brian Russell Manifold. He nodded his head and seemed to be almost smirking, shooting a look of contempt at the child abuser shuffling past with tear-streaked cheeks.

In the courtroom, before Manifold was sentenced to a six months in jail and a year of house arrest, the prosecutor had pointed to the "intense anger" felt by the victims' families because of the "violationof trust that's occurred." Manifold had been a live-in baby sitter and a youth group leader in church.

For almost two years, while helived in Deale and worked 24-hour shifts as a firefighter, the 35-year-old man gave Manifold room and board to watch his two pre-teen children. He needed a baby sitter because his wife was hospitalized, in a coma.

The man summed up his bitterness: "Your wife lays in a coma and he lays in bed with your children."

After Manifold received two concurrent five-year prison sentences, with all but the six months and house arrest suspended, the man described himself as "reasonably satisfied." He thought the sentence light, but was glad the judicial system displayed "a little backbone" in not letting Manifold off with probation.

"I needed satisfaction from seeing him go to jail," the man said. "That was my main concern. I had to see that it was done."

The story of Brian Manifold is, besides a story of betrayal, one of anger and threats, of guilt, shame and homosexuality, all as they play out in a small town like Deale.

Besides being convicted ofsexual child abuse, Manifold, 24, also was sentenced for a second-degree sexual offense involving fondling and other acts with a boy who is now 16. A court-ordered psychiatric report showed that although the boy was 8 when Manifold began fondling him, Manifold is not a pedophile.

He is, the report states, a homosexual who turned to neighborhood children because he had no opportunities for adult gay sex in Deale.

Yesterday in court, Manifold's attorney, Gill Cochran, said,"He has to come to accept his sexual orientation, as has his family.He is gay. We make no bones about it."

In acknowledging that whathe has done is wrong, Manifold added that he has joined a group known as the Gay People of Annapolis.

All of which struck the mother of the 16-year-old as beside the point. "As for his being gay, I don'tcare," the 38-year-old woman said. "What he wants to do with other adults is his business. But when you're talking about children, it's another story."

To the woman, betrayal is the issue. "Do you know what it's like to send your son on a weekend church retreat, and (Manifold) is in charge of the boy's section?" she asked.

In a letter included in the court file, the woman and her husband wrote of the guilt they feel because they had insisted their son go on the retreats, despite his visible reluctance. The court ordered Manifold to pay thecouple more than $5,800 in restitution toward their therapy.

The parents also wrote of the "undertones" that the incident has generated because it happened in a small town. On this point, everyone agrees.

Manifold's sister wrote, "This is a small town and Brian's life will never be the same. That, in itself, is punishment for him."

Another sister wrote that while awaiting trial and sentencing, Manifold had rarely gone out except to work because, in part, of a fear of bumping into victims' family members who had made veiled threats.

Asked yesterday what he would say to Manifold, the man who has since moved to Georgia said, "Beware. Beware of me."

In an Oct. 7 victim impact statement to Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr., the Georgia man saidhis daughter had told him she had been raped repeatedly until she was 12 years old.

He wrote: "Now we have to go through this again."

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