Ex-fireman pleads not guilty Mental test slated in rape, assault case HOWARD COUNTY

March 13, 1993|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,Staff Writer

A former Howard County volunteer firefighter has pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and assault stemming from a series of violent attacks on women, claiming he is not criminally responsible for the offenses.

The accused, James Scott Botschen, will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine his competency. A trial had been scheduled next week in Anne Arundel County. The evaluation is expected to delay it until at least May.

In a court filing earlier this month, defense attorney Paul D. Hazlehurst said his client could not appreciate the criminality of the conduct with which he is charged. Mr. Botschen is unable to help with his own defense, Mr. Hazlehurst wrote.

In a related matter, state police are investigating an officer who released handwritten statements by Mr. Botschen detailing his attack. Excerpts of the statements were printed in a Sun story March 6.

The plea and the investigation are the latest wrinkles in the case of Mr. Botschen, a former volunteer firefighter in Savage.

Mr. Botschen, 31, was arrested in September in Anne Arundel County and charged with attacking three women and raping a fourth on consecutive mornings in the same cul-de-sac.

Since then he has been charged with attacking two more women and raping a third in Frederick County in 1991. He is currently in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center without bond.

The alleged victims have told police strikingly similar stories. In general, they say, their assailant picked them up, engaged them in sex acts and then attacked them with a knife.

The case took a surprising turn recently when a state police investigator released 27 pages of handwritten statements by Mr. Botschen describing the attacks in grisly detail.

State police said yesterday that they are investigating Trooper Michael Grant for violating agency regulations, which prohibit the release of defendants' statements.

"He knows he went against the rules," said Sgt. Shelley W. Clemens, who is investigating the matter for the state police. "Now we have to decide what we're going to do. . . ."

The punishments range from a written reprimand or suspension to dismissal, said Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman. Sergeant Clemens said she doubted it would come to that.

Trooper Grant could not be reached for comment late yesterday. He previously has cited the public's right to know as his reason for releasing the documents.

Before the recent slew of charges, Mr. Botschen was charged with raping and beating a prostitute in 1991. Because the woman lied to police about being a prostitute, she could not be used as a witness. The case fell apart and he pleaded guilty to lesser charges and received probation.

The current cases rely largely on the accounts of prostitutes, some of

whom are drug addicts, according to police. Trooper Grant said if these cases fall apart, the public has a right to know that Mr. Botschen is dangerous.

Mr. Hazlehurst criticized Trooper Grant's actions Thursday.

"I think he's diminished if not eradicated my client's chances of getting a fair trial in this case," he said.

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