Trial under way for former guard accused of sexually abusing inmate

January 10, 1998|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Opening statements were heard yesterday in the trial of a former Baltimore County Women's Detention Center guard accused of sexually assaulting a former inmate while she was incarcerated.

Thomas Edward Webb, a 14-year veteran at the detention center, was charged with sexually assaulting two female inmates in separate incidents last January. The trial before Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger Sr. stems from an alleged incident involving one of the women.

In his opening remarks, Assistant State's Attorney John Cox portrayed Webb as a man who used his position as a sergeant at the detention center to molest the alleged victim.

"This case is a case about the misuse of trust and the abuse of authority that was placed in [Webb's] hands," Cox said.

Webb's attorney, Lon C. Engel, said Webb had never had any problems during his tenure at the detention center.

"He has been married for 17 years and has five children," Engel said. "Before this, his personnel records show no complaints, no allegations lodged against him by inmates."

According to charging documents, an inmate, now 36, said she was sexually assaulted by Webb in a locked office off a laundry area in the detention center on Bosley Avenue Jan. 7 last year. It is the Sun's policy not to identify alleged victims of sexual abuse.

Cox said prosecutors would present testimony from the alleged victim and DNA tests on a piece of cloth that allegedly contains a sample of Webb's semen that the inmate said she collected after being abused.

Engel attacked that evidence in his opening statement, saying the DNA testing might not be accurate because of the handling of the cloth and the amount of time that elapsed between the alleged incident and the testing.

The trial will continue Monday.

Pub Date: 1/10/98

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