Taneytown man convicted of abuse loses appeal

November 20, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

A 54-year-old Taneytown farmer serving 50 years in state prison for abusing his oldest daughter doesn't deserve to have his sentence reduced, a Carroll Circuit judge ruled yesterday.

The man "sexually abused his daughter from the time she was in the third grade until her senior year of high school," Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. wrote in his opinion.

"He assaulted, beat and threatened her. He even preached the Bible to his child, by saying, 'Thou shall obey thy parents and if the parent demands sexual contact, the Bible says you obey.' "

Judge Burns, who heard the man's term-reduction request on Dec. 14, 1990, said that the 50-year sentence was "very appropriate."

The sentence "serves the goals of punishment and especially deterrence because of the alarming increase of sexual offense crimes in Carroll County," the judge said.

The farmer, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of his daughter, was convicted in March 1990 of six criminal counts involving sexual abuse of his oldest daughter.

That abuse was revealed in June 1989 by the daughter, who was then 29, when she became concerned for the safety of her 9-year-old niece, for whom her father was to baby-sit.

When the man was sentenced on June 5, 1990, then-Circuit Judge Donald J. Gilmore called the offense "not only a case of sexual abuse, but it's a case of brutality."

At the time, Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill said the man's crimes were "the most vile criminal acts I've ever prosecuted."

In his ruling yesterday, Judge Burns said he shared that opinion.

Ms. Hill said yesterday that Judge Burns' decision "was fair in light of the damage [the defendant] has done to his daughters and to his family."

Judge Burns' decision did not surprise the man's attorney, Westminster lawyer Judith S. Stainbrook. "I wasn't hopeful of [Judge Burns] changing the sentence," she said.

The judge said he took nearly two years to render the decision because of the case's trip through both of the state's appellate courts.

In August 1991, the Court of Special Appeals upheld Judge Gilmore's decision.

Three months ago, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's ruling, rejecting the man's argument that his confession was coerced.

The man's confessions of the abuse -- revealed in counseling and directly to a state trooper in a tape-recorded interview at the man's farm -- were the key pieces of prosecution evidence at his trial.

While those confessions revealed that he abused several of his daughters, he was convicted only of abusing his oldest daughter.

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