Parents sue son's abuser

May 01, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

After a 17-year-old neighbor admitted sexually abusing their 8-year-old son, all a Westminster couple wanted was for the teen-age abuser and his family to move away.

For nearly six years, they asked their neighbors -- in person, through the mail and through attorneys -- to move out of the central Westminster neighborhood so their son wouldn't have to see his abuser every day.

"It is painful for [the victim] to be near your house, to walk past your house, and to be faced every day with the cause of his terrible problems," Charles O. Fisher Jr., the couple's attorney at the time, wrote in a Sept. 24, 1991, letter to the molester and his family.

"It would be more appropriate if you lived elsewhere," he wrote.

The abuser and his family did not move, so the victim's parents have filed suit in Carroll County Circuit Court.

They are seeking $350,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other counts.

David M. Thomas, an Ellicott City attorney who now represents the boy's parents, acknowledged that the likelihood of recovering such a sum is remote. But he said he hopes that the suit will send a strong message.

"It would be very nice if [the abuser] somehow just moves away," Mr. Thomas said. "We don't care if he gets married and moves away, or if he joins the French Foreign Legion and moves away. We just want him to move away."

The names of the victim and his parents are being withheld to protect the boy's privacy.

The names of the defendant -- who could not be reached for comment -- and his family also are being withheld.

According to the five-count civil suit, the defendant -- who lives across the street from the victim's parents -- sexually assaulted the boy on at least twice in 1988.

The suit states that the defendant often would baby-sit the boy and that he had earned a place of trust, respect and friendship in the family's home.

That trust and friendship was shattered, the suit states, when the defendant "did unlawfully and harmfully touch, fondle, and obtain unnatural and perverted sexual gratification" from the boy when he was 8.

According to court documents, the defendant -- now in his early 20s -- was judged delinquent in Juvenile Court after he admitted the abuse.

All the abused boy's parents have wanted was to get the defendant out of their lives, the suit says.

"Apparently, they didn't appreciate being told what to do," Mr. Thomas said of the defendant and his family. "It's not like you can banish someone from a neighborhood."

But, according to Mr. Thomas and the lawsuit, the young victim has been all but banished.

The boy has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals and now is living in a residential psychiatric facility in another state.

The boy's parents can't afford to move from the neighborhood themselves, Mr. Thomas said.

The boy's father says his son is undergoing extensive treatment for "many problems" caused by the sexual abuse.

"He's had a tough five years," the father said. "But he's tough. He hasn't given up."

The father said he also wants to send a message to anyone who doubts the anguish that he says he and his family feel because of the sexual abuse.

"People who haven't been through this just don't know," he said.

"They just don't know."

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