Ex-officer given 5 years in prison for sexual abuse

April 30, 1994|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Sun Staff Writer

A Baltimore County judge forecast "five years in hell" for the former Baltimore City police officer he sentenced to prison yesterday for the persistent sexual abuse of two girls in the 1960s and 1970s.

Circuit Judge Lawrence R. Daniels sentenced Bert Ricasa, 52, a 24 1/2 -year police veteran, suspending all but five years of a 35-year sentence for child abuse and second-degree sexual offense in one of the cases. He also fined Ricasa $1,000.

In suspending the 30 years, Judge Daniels said Ricasa's term "is likely to be five years in hell" because as a child molester and a former policeman he will have many enemies among fellow inmates. The sentence would have been even longer otherwise, said the judge, who convicted Ricasa in February.

Ricasa, of Medici Court in Perry Hall, entered an Alford plea yesterday to a second-degree sex offense in a separate case involving a second girl. The judge then imposed a concurrent 20-year sentence.

In an Alford plea, a defendant concedes the prosecution has evidence to win a guilty verdict during a trial but does not admit guilt.

The abuse occurred from 1968 to 1979 in the two cases, said prosecutor Stephen Bailey, beginning when the girls were as young as 6. With one child, it progressed from fondling to intercourse.

Members of Ricasa's family left the courtroom weeping. Defense lawyer John Denholm told them, "Five years doesn't mean five years; it means about 11 months."

Judge Daniels imposed stiff parole conditions on Ricasa for five years after he leaves prison. He must pay $25,000 toward counseling for his victims, who are now adults, and is forbidden to be in contact with them or to be alone with any person under age 18.

The judge ordered Ricasa to forgo alcohol and drugs and to attend a minimum of three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week.

Ricasa will be required to do 1,000 hours of community service while on parole because he left the country without court permission to attend his father's funeral in the Philippines. Ricasa tried to apologize, but an angry Judge Daniels rejected him, saying, "You basically spit in the court's face."

Mr. Denholm introduced several defense witnesses, including Capt. Eugene Yeager, commander of the city police Criminal Investigation Division. Captain Yeager said he had worked with Ricasa in the Western District and considered him "a very aggressive, honest, hard-working" police officer who was responsible for "well over a thousand" drug arrests.

Captain Yeager said he did not believe the allegations against Ricasa.

A psychologist and a psychological counselor who have worked with Ricasa since last fall said he is remorseful and ashamed. Psychologist Lawrence Fishel testified that Ricasa has a passive-aggressive disorder in which he draws "emotional sustenance from younger individuals." He requires continued treatment but has a good prognosis, Dr. Fishel said.

Mr. Bailey said Ricasa has continued to deny ever doing more than kissing or fondling the girls and continues to blame them.

Dr. Fishel conceded that Ricasa "only briefly" mentioned his involvement with a second girl. He also acknowledged that his only information about the case came from Ricasa.

Before sentencing, Judge Daniels read from letters written by the victims in which they related the impact of the experiences and how it has made them fearful of relationships with other people, particularly men. One victim wrote of her fear that if she has children she could become an abuser herself.

Judge Daniels said Ricasa was "unrepentant and unregenerate in the face of overwhelmingly credible evidence of crimes of the most vile and loathsome nature."

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