Man, 72, molested 5 children, jury told

September 14, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

Five children sent to a Mayo woman for day care were molested by her 72-year-old husband last year while he watched television with them, an Anne Arundel Circuit Court jury was told yesterday.

Earl Joseph Donnelly of the 1000 block of Carrs Wharf Road is being tried before Judge Bruce C. Williams on charges that he abused five children, who ranged in age from 7 to 10, in December 1993 at the home he shared with his wife, Margaret Donnelly.

In testimony yesterday, the children took the witness stand and told how the man they knew as "Pop-pop" touched them on their privates while watching Batman with them weekday afternoons.

He would routinely give them candy afterward, the girls testified.

"He told us to wear a dress when we came," a 9-year-old girl said.

A 7-year-old, who brought her doll to the witness chair, testified that the defendant would sit a few feet from her at one end of his couch and fondle her as she knelt on the floor next to him.

Asked if she ever told a lie, she shook her head so hard that her pigtails lashed her face.

Deputy State's Attorney William D. Roessler told the jury that Mr. Donnelly was arrested after the brother of one of the girls overheard two of the children discussing what went on at the house while driving them to a birthday party.

Mr. Roessler said most of the molestation involved touching the girls' genitals as they watched television with Mr. Donnelly in the living room while his wife was in the kitchen.

But he also alleged that Mr. Donnelly committed sex acts with one 7-year-old in a shack 200 feet behind the house where he raised pigeons and occasionally took the children to show off the birds.

Mr. Roessler said a pediatrician will testify that the girls were abused.

"From the beginning, all the girls have indicated that it was one adult who betrayed their trust, Earl Donnelly," Mr. Roessler said.

But Mr. Donnelly's lawyer, Keith Krissoff, told jurors that children may be just as prone to lying as adults.

"While we like to think our children don't lie, they will if they can get away with it, and they sometimes do," he said.

He told jurors to ask themselves how so much fondling could go on undetected in the small, one-story house and why none of the children ever reported it to their parents or to Mrs. Donnelly.

"I think we're going to hear inconsistencies, things that are absolutely incredible," Mr. Krissoff said.

Mr. Krissoff also emphasized that Mrs. Donnelly has watched children in her home for 15 years and that Mr. Donnelly, a father of four and a grandfather of seven, has never been convicted of any crime.

In cross examination yesterday, Mr. Krissoff offered one theory on why the five children may have made up such accusations now -- the Michael Jackson case.

He asked each child if they had ever heard of Michael Jackson, who faced public accusations of fondling a young boy last year, and whether they knew what had happened to the pop singer.

The children acknowledged that they had heard of his case.

"He was doing bad touches to somebody else," one of the 7-year-old girls said.

The case is expected to go to the jury of six men and six women late Thursday or early Friday.

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