WESTMINSTER -- A 54-year-old man accused of sexually abusing his 4-year-old grandson entered District Court last week prepared to begin presenting his defense to Judge Donald M. Smith.
He never uttered a word. In fact, he never had to. The assistant state's attorney assigned to the case dropped all nine sexual abuse, child abuse and battery charges against him Wednesday.
Far from viewing the wholesale dismissal of the charges as a legal bonanza, the man is still reeling from what he perceives as the unfairness of his treatment in the system.
"Before we appeared in court, there was no discussion between my client and the state's attorney's office on these charges," said Towson attorney Charles E. Brooks, one of the man's attorneys. "He, I and my partner were absolutely floored."
The charges were filed by State Police Sgt. P. Jeff Merson on July 8. According to Sergeant Merson's statement, the man -- whose name is being withheld to protect the child's identity -- sexually abused his grandson in the summer of 1990.
The alleged offenses included forced anal intercourse and other acts, the statement said.
Mr. Brooks said the charges stem from years of allegations of abuse, harassment and other alleged wrongdoing on the part of his client. The allegations -- all dismissed by the time they made their way to court -- were made by the man's daughter.
"There was a meeting earlier this year to discuss these abuse charges," Mr. Brooks said. "For whatever reason, the state's attorney's office decided then that there wasn't enough evidence to file charges."
The dropping of charges in child sexual abuse cases is extremely rare in Carroll. Indeed, the state's attorney's office rarely drops entire cases before they begin, regardless of the severity of the crime.
Reached for comment yesterday, State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman declined to comment on the case.
Mr. Brooks said he doesn't blame Mr. Hickman or his office.
"I have a great deal of respect for him and that office, and for law enforcement in general," he said. "They must have realized that this case did not have sufficient evidence to even establish probable cause.
"I've been an attorney for 28 years, and I have never seen anything like this," Mr. Brooks said.