Man convicted of molesting 3 girls 2 were his nieces, 1 a friend's child

February 11, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

After deliberating six hours yesterday, a Carroll County Circuit Court jury convicted a 43-year-old Westminster man of sexually molesting two of his nieces and the daughter of a family friend more than 50 times over the last five years.

The seven-woman, three-man jury returned guilty verdicts on three counts of child abuse, two counts of second-degree sex offense, four counts of third-degree sex offense, two counts of perverted practice and five counts of battery.

The defendant showed no emotion as the verdicts were read.

Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. revoked the defendant's bail and ordered him held in the Carroll County Detention Center until he is sentenced April 7. The defendant faces a maximum penalty of more than 155 years in jail, but his attorney estimated he would probably serve between 12 and 40 years.

"We're very pleased," State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman said after the verdicts. "This was really a monstrous crime. We don't know what problems these kids will have as they grow up."

The man was arrested in August after a four-month state police investigation revealed that he had been fondling the 10-year-old daughter of a family friend "on many occasions since she was 8."

The investigation also revealed sexual abuse of his 15-year-old niece when she was 9, and of his 9-year-old niece last year. The victims were the prosecution's key witnesses in the three-day trial.

Each victim described in detail how the man would fondle her while they watched television or baked cookies at his house, or while he visited them in their homes.

On some occasions, the man asked the girls to fondle him, they testified.

"This man put them through hell again by putting them through this trial," Mr. Hickman said.

Assistant Public Defender Edward T. Barry said his client maintains he is innocent.

"I can tell you there will definitely be an appeal," Mr. Barry said. "We really appreciated the overwhelming support he got from his family and friends."

Two dozen people testified as character witnesses Tuesday, saying they would trust him with their children.

One of his sisters-in-law said she would trust him with her life.

But prosecutors and the girls themselves portrayed the defendant as a man who took advantage of the trust of young children for his own sexual gratification.

The defendant testified Tuesday and denied the charges.

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