A Howard County Circuit Court judge has refused a deal that would have meant no more than two years in prison for a man charged with raping a 13-year-old girl who bore his child.
Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr. called the deal "far out of line."
Glenn G. Toms was prepared to admit that he had repeatedly abused and raped the girl, now 14. In exchange, Howard County prosecutors said they would recommend that he serve no more than two years in prison, instead of a possible 20 to 40 years.
Judge Sybert said he could not understand why the state accepted a plea in the case since the girl was willing to testify against Mr. Toms. He also said the state could easily prove the abuse occurred by performing genetic testing on Mr. Toms and the baby.
"Sometimes, it might cause more harm and damage to the victim who has to testify; we didn't have that situation here," Judge Sybert said.
In a statement of facts read to the judge on March 2, Mr. Toms, 48, admitted to sexually abusing the girl since she was 7, and threatening to kill her if she told. At age 13, the girl gave birth to his child. Police arrested Mr. Toms in February 1991, and charged him with multiple counts of second-degree rape of an underage victim, sexual offenses, child abuse, and assault and battery for incidents covering seven years.
As part of the agreement, he would have pleaded guilty only to one count of child abuse, and Assistant State's Attorney Walter Closson would recommend a maximum jail sentence of two years, plus counseling. The state would drop the remaining charges.
"After hearing all that, I just could not in good conscience accept the disposition," Judge Sybert said. "I just thought the suggested disposition was far out of line with the offense."
He scheduled a jury trial on the case for April 29.
Deputy State's Attorney Dwight S. Thompson declined to comment,saying that he could not discuss pending cases. But he said that because of Judge Sybert's remarks, it is possible that defense lawyers will ask that the trial be moved to another jurisdiction.
Judge Sybert said that if prosecutors go before another judge seeking the same plea bargain that he rejected, the new judge should be told of his decision. Although his ruling is not binding, he said it is unlikely that his fellow Circuit Court judges will accept the plea he turned down.
According to court records, the girl's mother had a daughter by Mr. Toms in January of 1987. Both the mother and the daughter filed petitions against Mr. Toms in November 1991 requesting that he be ordered to pay child support for both children.