Abuse suspect says confession forced

October 22, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

A 31-year-old Westminster woman admitted to police that she fondled her then-15-year-old foster son on at least two occasions in the last year.

But the woman's attorney argued yesterday that the confession was made only after she believed she was promised lenient treatment by the police and after the detective conducting the interview threatened to take her 10-year-old son away from her.

In an evidence suppression hearing before Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr., Westminster attorney J. Barry Hughes asked that the taped confession -- as well as two subsequent confessions, a diary and an erotic book -- not be allowed as evidence in the woman's forthcoming child sexual abuse trial.

Judge Beck said he would issue his opinion in "several days."

The confession was taped by Westminster Police Lt. Dean A. Brewer on Feb. 21 at the city police station. In the first half of the taped statement, the woman -- whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of her foster son -- denied any sexual contact with the boy.

But after a 13-minute break that police say was to provide the woman with a drink of soda, she confessed to two episodes of sexual abuse.

"I admit to touching his [genitals]," she said to Lieutenant Brewer.

And while Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III said the reason she decided to make the confession after the 13-minute break was because she "wanted to come clean, to get something off her chest," Mr. Hughes maintained that the untaped break afforded Lieutenant Brewer an opportunity to threaten the woman.

"Common sense tells us people don't usually change their position and incriminate themselves without a reason for doing so," Mr. Hughes said. "It's up to the state to prove this was voluntary. It's interesting that during the 13-minute gap is when my client did a complete turnaround."

Mr. Walker argued that it would not have been in Lieutenant Brewer's interests to threaten the woman or offer her promises of leniency.

"Who has more reason to fabricate a story?," he asked the judge. "Certainly not the police officer. He's just doing his job. I would think he would make sure that things are done carefully."

Police were alerted after the 15-year-old boy spoke to a guidance counselor.

The woman was served with an arrest warrant on March 10 after she and her father went voluntarily to the Westminster Police Department.

She was charged with one count of child abuse, one count of perverted practice and six counts of fourth-degree sexual offense. Her trial will be scheduled before the middle of January.

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