Sex abuse defendant's bail revoked after he left state, danced with girls Actions violated a court order

June 02, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Despite a court order to stay in Maryland and avoid contact with girls under 18, a Howard County man awaiting trial in Carroll on child sexual abuse charges attended a square dancing festival in Virginia where he danced with young girls.

The attendance of James Winstead Hunter, 32, at the three-day festival in March landed him in the Carroll County Detention Center yesterday. He will remain there without bond until his June 28 trial.

"You knew what your two conditions were before you left, didn't you?" Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill asked the defendant during his bail-revocation hearing yesterday in Carroll Circuit Court.

"Yes," Mr. Hunter answered.

"And you knew you were in violation of a court order?"

"Yeah."

Mr. Hunter, of Spruce Run Court in Ellicott City, was arrested at his home by state police Dec. 31 and charged with one count of third-degree sexual offense and one count of battery.

Court records say that a woman he met through square dancing found her 6-year-old daughter lying on top of Mr. Hunter and fondling him at the woman's Finksburg home. Mr. Hunter also allegedly played a game with the girl in which he pulled her over his head when she wore dresses, the records say.

A Carroll District Court judge set bail at $10,000 early in January. Mr. Hunter posted a $1,000 surety bond several days later.

The identity of the girl and her mother are being withheld to protect the child's privacy.

According to testimony at the bail- revocation hearing, the current case is the sixth child sexual abuse case in which Mr. Hunter has been involved. He was convicted in four of the cases and acquitted in one.

William Morstein, Mr. Hunter's defense attorney, told Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. yesterday that his client has a lengthy abuse record, but the fact that he has not had direct sexual contact with the victims lessens his danger to society.

"This is not a case in which we have a lunatic running around murdering and raping," Mr. Morstein said.

He also said that, while Mr. Hunter "technically" violated the terms of his pretrial release on bail, he doesn't deserve to spend the next 27 days in jail pending trial.

"The man went down to Virginia and square-danced, Judge," the attorney implored. "He did not do anything illegal there."

Ms. Hill opposed the suggestion, and called Mr. Hunter a "predatory pedophile."

Judge Beck's decision was immediate. "You violated the court order by leaving the state, and I don't care if it was for square dancing," he told the defendant. Then the judge revoked Mr. Hunter's bail.

Later yesterday, Mr. Hunter failed in an attempt to strike two statements he gave to police on the day before and the day of his arrest. In a pretrial motions hearing, Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. ruled that the statements -- in which Mr. Hunter admitted an attraction to children -- would be admissible at his trial.

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