Carnal county? Harford's strange sequence: Officials and sex in headlines with disturbing frequency.

January 24, 1998

IS THERE SOMETHING in Harford County's drinking water? What else can explain the bizarre series of sexual incidents involving people in local government recently:

Richard W. Daub Jr. resigned as president of the county school board this month as it became public that he had listed "sex" among personal hobbies on his America Online account. He said he just wanted to "see what would happen," according to the Aegis in Bel Air: What happened was an embarrassing end to his term as president.

Joseph P. Licata, an assistant school superintendent, was placed on paid leave last fall after his arrest in Baltimore on a charge of engaging in oral sex in his car with a woman. He was reinstated after the charge was dropped.

A Havre de Grace councilman, Charles A. Maslin III, last month was sentenced to 10 years in prison for molesting a youth 20 years ago. Maslin, 40, owner of a popular comedy club, quickly resigned from the council. The victim, now 28, was 9 when the incidents began.

County Councilman Mark S. Decker sought last year to have his record cleared of his conviction for touching a female janitor's chest outside council's chambers in 1995. The Bel Air-area representative was convicted of battery and given probation before judgment.

The cases have no direct link. They run the gamut from the criminal to the merely embarrassing; it is not illegal, for instance, for an adult to take a seamy surf of the Internet. But it is disturbing that several officials would seem unable or unwilling to grasp the weight of the public trust that accompanies their high-profile positions. This pattern should be especially

disturbing in Harford, a politically conservative county where the local prosecutor and community groups have been active over the years battling pornography and sex crime.

The volatile issue of sex and politics is currently riveting the nation as President Clinton fights allegations that he is covering up an affair with a White House intern. From Washington to Bel Air, the lesson is the same: Present and future public leaders who ignore the fallout from all of these cases do so at their peril.

Pub Date: 1/24/98

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