Sentence suspended in sexual abuse case

April 04, 1995|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A state administrative judge charged with sexually abusing two teen-age boys, including his foster son, accepted a plea agreement yesterday that spares him a prison term.

Marvin Lee Teal of Ellicott City was given a suspended 15-year prison term by Howard Circuit Judge Raymond Kane Jr. after he pleaded guilty to charges that include two counts of child abuse.

The victims reported to police that most of the incidents occurred after they fell asleep in Mr. Teal's apartment and awakened to find Mr. Teal molesting them, according to reports filed in Circuit Court. The incidents occurred between September 1980 and last spring.

Assistant State's Attorney Shirley Ripley said the plea agreement was reviewed by the victims, their families and police detectives who investigated the case.

"We believe this is in the best interest of the state to proceed in this manner," Ms. Ripley said.

Gloria Goldfaden, executive director of People Against Child Abuse, the Annapolis-based chapter of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, criticized the sentence, saying it sends a poor message to the public.

"The message is, 'If you know the right people and you know the system, you may not have to pay for your crimes,' " Ms. Goldfaden said. "I think the sentence is far too light."

But Kathy Maddox, supervisor of Howard County's Child Protective Services, said Mr. Teal's sentence -- five years of supervised probation, combined with sex-offender counseling and an order to avoid unsupervised contact with juveniles -- is appropriate. He also is forbidden from contacting the victims.

She noted that if Mr. Teal's case had gone to trial, he could have been acquitted and not punished at all. "In my mind, it's a victory," Ms. Maddox said.

Howard legal sources noted a trial would have given Mr. Teal's attorney the opportunity to attack the credibility of the victims, creating the possibility that the prosecution would not win a conviction.

State's Attorney Marna McLendon acknowledged that child abuse cases are the most difficult to prosecute, because jurors are often reluctant to believe such heinous crimes occur. "In an ideal world, we would always get substantial jail time," she said.

Ms. Goldfaden, of the national child-abuse prevention group, said she is not surprised the victims agreed to the plea deal, noting that such trials are often painful experiences for victims, particularly males.

David Pembroke, a Hagerstown attorney who represents Mr. Teal, said his client would resign from his job as a judge for the state Office of Administrative Hearings, a post he has held since 1990.

Mr. Teal, 44, of the 8400 block of High Ridge Road had been assigned to administrative duties for the agency since his arrest last April. The office holds hearings on complaints from residents regarding decisions made by 26 state agencies.

Mr. Teal also must give up his state real estate license because convicted felons cannot work as real estate agents, Mr. Pembroke said.

"All of the things he's done, Mr. Teal won't be able to do now," the attorney said. "Mr. Teal's life is going to be totally different."

The plea agreement covers two counts of child abuse and one count of intercepting communications, a charge filed against Mr. Teal after he taped a telephone conversation with one of the victims without the boy's consent.

Multiple counts of child abuse, perverted sexual practices, sexual offenses, assault and battery were dropped by the prosecution as part of the plea deal.

Mr. Teal was arrested last April after a monthlong police investigation that began when his foster son, then 17, reported that he was molested about 30 times since 1987, when his father introduced the youth to Mr. Teal.

The youth told investigators that Mr. Teal repeatedly performed sex acts on him, according to police reports. The teen said he decided to report the abuse because he had "had enough."

According to court records, the youth has been in and out of several foster homes under the supervision of Baltimore County Department of Social Services. He was sexually abused by his stepfather from the time he was 2 until age 10, the court documents say.

Because of that abuse, the boy was removed from his home and eventually placed with Mr. Teal. He was in Mr. Teal's temporary custody for three weeks before Mr. Teal's abuse began, police say.

The youth is now at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, a juvenile detention facility in Baltimore County. Details of his case are unavailable because juvenile records are sealed from the public.

The second victim, now 25 and living in Ellicott City, went to police after reading newspaper stories about Mr. Teal's arrest and reported that Mr. Teal also abused him.

He reported that the incidents occurred between 1980 and 1985, while Mr. Teal served as the victim's Big Brother in the Big Brothers-Big Sisters of America Inc. program.

He told police that Mr. Teal fondled him on separate occasions and tried to perform a sex act with him. He said he did not report the incidents sooner because of anxiety.

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