Suspect wrote 27 pages about hurting prostitutes Statements may complicate the case

March 06, 1993|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,Staff Writer

In the summer of 1991, James Scott Botschen beat and kicked a prostitute so badly that he got blood on his socks and shoes.

At his sentencing for the crime six months later, he asked for mercy.

"Your Honor, I believe that I am worth the court taking a risk," the volunteer firefighter in Howard County wrote. "I know that I have a problem with feelings of anger. What happened . . . will never happen again."

The judge took him at his word and gave Mr. Botschen a suspended sentence.

But it did happen again, state police say.

During the next eight months, he attacked five prostitutes and raped another in Anne Arundel County, state police say. Last week, a grand jury indicted him on charges of raping and trying to kill a prostitute in 1991.

The attacks were particularly vicious. One woman required reconstructive surgery to her vagina, according to a state police report. Another said that Mr. Botschen threatened to stab her in the back with a large knife while forcing her to have sex, according to police.

This time around, police investigators are doubly determined to put him behind bars. Since his arrest last September, no one has aided them more in their efforts than Mr. Botschen himself.

While in jail, he wrote 12 separate statements describing his attacks in grisly detail. State police have obtained all 27 pages.

But instead of simplifying the case, the statements may have only complicated it further.

When Mr. Botschen comes to trial this month, the defense will probably fight to have them thrown out, arguing that police violated his constitutional rights.

"We'll be moving to suppress any information seized from Mr. Botschen," says defense attorney Paul Hazlehurst. "Obviously, we think some things were done incorrectly by law enforcement officials."

The case took another twist when a state police investigator, in a highly unusual move, released the statements to The Sun.

That action has drawn criticism from criminal law professors, who say it could deny Mr. Botschen a fair trial. Publicity could also jeopardize the statements' admissibility, they say.

Prosecutors won't discuss the decision to release the statements. State Trooper Michael Grant, an investigator on the case, says neither he nor any other officer had done anything wrong.

"Our case is centered around the victims," says Frank Weathersbee, the Anne Arundel state's attorney. "I'm not necessarily looking to introduce [the statements] into evidence."

A large butcher knife

Scott Botschen, now 31, is a quiet, nondescript-looking man who wears glasses and a blond mustache. Co-workers have described him as a loner, who habitually made degrading remarks about women, state police say. At the time of his arrest, he was unemployed and his life reVolved around the Savage Volunteer Fire Department, where he was honored in 1990 for saving a man's life.

The latest charges against him began with an arrest Sept. 4, 1992, on a deserted cul-de-sac in Anne Arundel County.

Two troopers were on a stakeout, responding to a report the night before that a naked woman had sought help at a nearby business. She claimed to have been raped at knife-point.

Around 2:30 a.m., a car pulled in. After a few minutes, the troopers approached. Inside, the said, they found Mr. Botschen, a hysterical, half-naked woman and a large butcher knife.

They promptly arrested him. By the end of the month, police had charged Mr. Botschen with attacking a total of three admitted prostitutes and raping a fourth on consecutive mornings in the cul-de-sac.

The case continued to grow.

After Mr. Botschen's picture appeared on local television news, another woman came forward claiming that she had been attacked. Through tips, police tracked down a sixth woman who told a similar story.

Last December, Trooper Grant went to the county jail to charge Mr. Botschen with the two new crimes.

Trooper Grant, 34, is a tall, lanky, law-and-order type of officer. During his 13 years on the force, he has investigated all kinds of cases. This was his first involving an apparent serial crime.

Mr. Botschen arrived from his cell carrying two manila envelopes. Inside were statements describing violent encounters with five of the women. They were addressed to his attorney.

Trooper Grant confiscated the statements over Mr. Botschen's objections and gave him photocopies.

The statements bolstered the case. Up to this point, police had relied largely on the accounts of prostitutes, some of whom were drug addicts, Mr. Grant says.

"'I think that's precisely why Scott Botschen picked on some of these people," he says. "They've got some things in their past . . . that general citizens would not think highly of."

A rare glimpse

Mr. Botschen's writings provide a remarkable first-person narrative of an alleged crime spree.

Using blue pen on lined paper, he describes cruising Baltimore for sex and then terrorizing prostitutes at knife-point to get his money back.

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