Persecution alleged in sex abuse case

January 08, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

A Westminster man accused of sexually abusing a teen-age boy over a 19-month period is being persecuted by prosecutors and law enforcement agents, the assistant public defender representing the man said yesterday.

Robert Leander Wantz of Pleasant Valley Road had been the subject of an earlier abuse case involving a young girl, and his home was raided June 3 by the Carroll County Drug Task Force, which seized marijuana, including live plants, and other drug paraphernalia.

"There is an ugly odor of a witch hunt," said Samuel Truette, the defense attorney, during a motions hearing. "I loathe to make the connection, but it looks like I have to."

The alleged victim in this case, now 17, said he was forced to perform sexual acts with Mr. Wantz in the Wantz home and in a shed behind the home from July 1990 to February 1992.

Aside from seeking to suppress the evidence from the task force raid, Mr. Truette asked for any information the state had acquired as a result of the young girl's allegations. She later recanted her statements.

Mr. Truette said the girl indicated to the public defender's office that the youth now charging Mr. Wantz with abuse actually coerced her into making her accusations.

"If she said that [the alleged victim] put her up to it, I'd say that the bad faith is prolonged," Mr. Truette said. "This is a case based on credibility of [the accuser] . . . with precious little corroboration otherwise."

Prosecutor Christy McFall said the state was under no obligation to provide the defense with any notes under the discovery rule, which entitles the defendant to the names of witnesses who may testify against him in a trial.

Mr. Truette said he and the state had reached an agreement not to introduce any of the evidence seized as a result of raids on the Wantz home June 3 and July 9.

During the raids, police found nude pictures of Mr. Wantz and his wife, Patricia, and took several photographs of magazines and other items in the home.

They also turned up six full-grown marijuana plants, several grocery bags filled with small plastic bags of marijuana, indoor growth lamps, sophisticated planters with indoor irrigation and and logs charting the growth of the plants.

Circuit Court Judge Luke K. Burns said it appeared the state had invested a lot of time in pursuing the defendant for various crimes.

"I can make the observation that the state has had a lot of interest in Mr. Wantz," Judge Burns said.

The judge said he would rule on the motions after he has reviewed them, and told the prosecution not to destroy any notes in the case.

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