A pedophile who molested two Baltimore County brothers before they took their lives in separate suicides pleaded guilty yesterday to violating his probation because he stalked one of the brothers for years after a 1990 sex abuse conviction.
Dressed in tan prison clothes and shackled in chains, Peter Dudley Albertsen II admitted that he violated his probation by secretly following Justin Wilke and sending him love letters and a videotape of child pornography while he was under a court order to keep away.
Within 15 months of the mailing of the tape in 1995, Justin Wilke, 19, his brother, Matt, 22, and their father, Don, 56, killed themselves, filling their cars with clouds of carbon monoxide.
After a brief hearing yesterday, Baltimore Circuit Judge Edward J. Angeletti accepted Albertsen's guilty plea and agreed to give him time to prepare for his sentencing Nov. 3.
Albertsen, 35, is serving a 10-year federal prison term for sending Justin Wilke the tape of child pornography. For one family member, being back yesterday in the courthouse where the case began seven years ago was difficult.
"If this was done right to begin with, we wouldn't be here today," said Stephanie Franzoni, Matt and Justin Wilke's aunt.
Albertsen met the brothers in 1985 while working as a counselor at a Monkton summer camp. He befriended the brothers and their parents, and then began to molest the boys at his Hampden rowhouse.
Albertsen was arrested in 1990, indicted in a series of crimes. But prosecutors dropped the charges involving Matt and most of those involving Justin. In return, Albertsen pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse for molesting Justin.
The prosecutor who handled the case returned to Angeletti's courtroom yesterday. A father himself, he said after the hearing that he has been haunted by what happened.
"It's been a hard thing," Assistant States' Attorney Jan M. Alexander said. "I did sex crimes for six years, and you always try to protect the kids. This is a prosecutor's nightmare. It's such a tragedy."
Alexander said at the time of the crime that a suspended three-year prison term and then five years of probation seemed to be a reasonable sentence. Albertsen had no criminal past. He was receiving psychiatric help. And Matt and Justin Wilke's mother didn't want her sons to testify in open court.
Following the recommendations from prosecutors and state psychologists in 1990, Angeletti suspended Albertsen's three-year prison term and sentenced him to probation with one key condition: Stay away from Justin.
But Albertsen didn't stay away. According to letters, records and testimony that surfaced years later, Albertsen repeatedly followed Justin, secretly attending his 1994 graduation from Loyola High School, showing up in the driveway of his home near Hereford and sending him long, desperate love letters.
In May 1995, shortly before his probation was to expire, %o Albertsen mailed a package to Justin for his 19th birthday from Germany, where Albertsen was living on a student visa. Inside was a videotape containing explicit images of child pornography. By mailing it into the United States, Albertsen had committed a federal crime.
For Justin and Matt and their father, Don Wilke, the tape represented their inability to keep Albertsen away. Devastated by the abuse of his sons and the breakup of his marriage when his wife, Susan, moved to Florida, Don Wilke ended his life two days after Thanksgiving 1995, asphyxiating himself in his car.
Three months later, Justin ended his life the same way. In August 1996, Matt, 22, who believed he should have done more to protect his brother, completed the deadly circle. He funneled carbon monoxide into his car after driving deep into a Baltimore County cornfield.
Federal agents arrested Albertsen late last year after he returned from Germany to visit his mother in Baltimore. He pleaded guilty to sending the tape to Justin and received the maximum sentence this summer -- 10 years in federal prison without parole.
With evidence developed in that federal investigation, state prosecutors began to build a case against Albertsen for violating his probation. They said Albertsen left letters, notes and gifts on Justin's car. He followed him to public places, and he mailed the tape to Justin during the five-year probation.
Matt and Justin's aunt said yesterday she's looking forward to the day when the criminal case is finally closed.
"I just want it to be over for a little bit of closure," Franzoni said. "But I know this will never really go away."
Pub Date: 10/18/97