Man gets 18 months for second-degree rape of 2 girls Most of 12-year sentence suspended by judge

October 02, 1997|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A Pasadena man was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in jail for the second-degree rape of two runaways, ages 11 and 13, after the father of one girl spoke out in favor of giving him a chance to straighten out his life.

The father told Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Ronald A. Silkworth that while he was angry and upset, he felt that Justin A. Wagner, 21, of the 1100 block of Wilson Road in Glen Burnie was genuinely sorry and had been kind to the family after the crime.

"Everyone deserves a second chance. I just hope he does what he is supposed to do," the father said later, outside the courtroom. He said another of his children had gotten into trouble, was given a second chance and has turned his life around. His daughter, he said, "will be OK" and is living out of state with relatives because of the incident.

Silkworth imposed a sentence of 12 years but suspended all but 18 months, which will allow Wagner to serve the time in the county jail instead of a harsher state prison. The sentence is much less than state guidelines, which call for 16 to 30 years for the two convictions. A violation could land Wagner in prison for the rest of the 12-year sentence.

Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia Ferris, who said only that she would seek a limit of seven years on any prison term, said she was satisfied with the sentence.

Wagner, saying he has an alcohol problem, sought to attend the Second Genesis substance abuse program instead of going to jail, but he has yet to hear if he has been accepted. Silkworth said he would consider allowing him to attend Second Genesis if he is accepted.

Wagner has a record of two probation violations. While waiting for the rape case to be dealt with, he served 120 days for theft and carrying a gun and 80 days for underage possession of alcohol.

The 13-year-old girl decided to run away from home because she was suspended from school, and her 11-year-old friend agreed to go with her.

On April 15, they went to the home of John W. Persinger II, 20, of the 7700 block of Fox Court in Pasadena, where they hid in his bedroom. Persinger's parents did not know the girls were there.

The next day, William J. Young, 19, of the 1200 block of Wilson Road in Glen Burnie and Wagner went to the house.

The girls initially said they were raped at the house, and charges of first-degree rape were filed against Wagner, Persinger and Young. Further investigation indicated that the sex was consensual, and the charges were reduced.

Persinger and Young have pleaded guilty to one count each of second-degree rape and will be sentenced later this month.

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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