Carroll mother pleads guilty Wimperis abducted her young son, then vanished for 8 years

She'll seek visitation right

Judge calls action 'appalling' but limits penalty to time served

December 12, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Sharon E. Wimperis, who abducted her son after losing a bitter custody battle in 1990 and lived on the run for eight years, pleaded guilty yesterday to a misdemeanor charge in Carroll County District Court.

Wimperis, 50, remained silent. Her lawyer, D. Dusky Holman, said she entered the guilty plea because she wanted to avoid embarrassing her son.

Judge JoAnn Ellinghaus-Jones sentenced Wimperis to the 105 days she has served in jail for taking her son out of state. The maximum penalty is one year.

Wimperis chose not to defend her actions by bringing up earlier accusations that her ex-husband had abused their son.

William J. Wimperis of Finksburg has denied his former wife's allegations. Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. rejected evidence from two of her experts and awarded custody to the father, granting the mother visitation rights.

Their son Adam, 13, did not attend yesterday's proceedings. He was returned to the custody of his father Aug. 6, the day after Wimperis was arrested by FBI agents in Michigan.

The judge said of the the boy's victim impact statement, "For a 13-year-old, it was typical, short and sweet."

She said Adam wishes he could see his mother and does not want her to spend any more time in jail.

Holman said he will seek permission from the court for his client to visit her son.

"That's the first step," he said.

Tracy A. Gilmore, deputy state's attorney for Carroll County, said sentencing Wimperis to time served was logical. She said the defendant probably would have been placed on parole after serving 25 percent of the maximum penalty.

"We were prepared to offer lengthy arguments, a lot of which didn't need to be said" in public, Gilmore said. "The potential to hurt Adam was great."

In sentencing Wimperis yesterday, Ellinghaus-Jones said her concern was for Adam and "the message he got, that if you are unhappy with a [court] decision, it's OK to do what you want. It's a very dangerous message."

She said she understands that Wimperis disagreed with Burns' custody decision but that "the judicial system has evolved over 200 years to address concerns parents may have for a child."

"As a citizen, a judge and a parent, I have to put all my faith in the [judicial] system, and [your] knowing that you violated Judge Burns' order makes what you did appalling," Ellinghaus-Jones said.

The judge also placed Wimperis on 36 months' unsupervised probation, ordering her to have no contact with her former husband or his family, and to comply with all court orders regarding contact with her son.

Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. terminated Wimperis' visitation rights in July 1990, an order that remains in effect, Gilmore said.

After yesterday's sentencing, William Wimperis said he is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with Adam for the first time in 10 years.

"Adam is doing well," he said. "He's still adjusting to family and school but he's doing well."

Pub Date: 12/12/98

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