Taneytown man pleads guilty to child sex abuse First conviction was overturned

March 06, 1996|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,SUN STAFF

A 30-year-old Taneytown man whose 1994 child molestation conviction was rejected last summer by a Court of Appeals pleaded guilty to the same charges in Carroll County Circuit Court yesterday.

The man, whose name is being withheld to protect the privacy of his victims, was serving 145 years in prison -- one of the longest terms ever handed out in Maryland for child sexual abuse -- when the appellate court ruled in August that the jury had heard improper testimony during the trial.

Appeals judges took issue with a doctor's testimony that included a statement that most children don't lie about sexual child abuse.

Yesterday, the man pleaded guilty to six counts of second-degree sexual offense, two counts of third-degree sexual offense and two counts of child abuse in the molestation of nine children, including his son and daughter and some of their friends.

Prosecutors said yesterday that the man molested the children, many of whom were children of his friends, in his Taneytown apartment for five years starting in 1988.

The children, who are now 7 to 13 years old, were as young as 3 when the abuse began. In some cases, the man forced his children to watch as he abused their friends, prosecutors said.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the remaining 24 counts when the man is sentenced May 6. Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. agreed to a sentence of 90 years, suspending all but a maximum of 40 years.

"When you look at all the facts and the circumstances, [the plea] is a good thing," said Assistant State's Attorney Tracy A. Gilmore. She noted that the Maryland attorney general's office had advised that cases involving each of the nine children be tried separately, which would have meant that the children -- many of whom witnessed the abuse of their friends -- would have had to testify more than once.

"This saves the children from having to go to trial again," she said. "It was hard the first time. It's not going to get any easier."

The maximum-40-year sentence could be longer than the sentence called for in the plea agreement the man accepted, then rejected, in 1994. In that instance, prosecutors offered a sentence of just over 30 years.

Pub Date: 3/06/96

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