Sexual abuse arrest prompts anger Parents say officials should have told them of investigation

December 16, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

State police, prosecutors, counselors and Carroll County school officials fielded questions from Mount Airy parents last night, hoping to quell anger and fear about a man accused of sexually abusing three children.

Parents asked if police would protect their children should the man charged in the incidents be released on bail.

"There are five resident troopers in Mount Airy," said Lt. Leonard Armstrong, commander of the Westminster state police barracks. "If he is released, all of them will know and they will watch to whatever extent possible."

The man was arrested Nov. 25 on charges that he sexually assaulted two neighborhood girls, 11 and 7 years old, after allegedly luring them into his home with lollipops. Last week, he was arrested again and charged with second-degree rape and other offenses involving another 7-year-old girl.

The alleged incidents occurred between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, according to charging documents. The Sun does not identify victims of alleged sexual assaults.

About 100 parents attended last night's meeting at Mount Airy Elementary School. Many were angry that they were not notified about the investigation or that a suspected sexual offender was living in the neighborhood of town homes near the school.

"Why didn't the school or police send something out to us to let us know?" said Ruth Wilson. "We are not asking you for a name, or to say someone is convicted, just to let us know what is happening."

Wilson said neighborhood children frequently go door-to-door for school fund-raisers.

Sgt. Ronald S. Mosco, supervisor of the Child Abuse and Sexual Assault unit of the State Police and the Carroll County state's attorney's office, organized the meeting after receiving more than 100 phone calls from parents who had learned of the arrest through the newspapers.

Mosco told the parents that notification could have jeopardized the investigation and probably would have caused the suspect to flee.

Mosco added, the man "is not a registered sex offender. He never was on any list."

Robert E. Tibbits, 63, has been charged in the three cases, police said, and is being held at the Carroll County Detention Center in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Tibbits, a resident of the area for five to eight years, was convicted of sexual offenses involving young girls in 1980 and sentenced to 18 months in jail, according to the Carroll state's attorney's office. But that conviction predates the 1995 notification law.

Mosco said the arrest came after a month of investigating and surveillance.

Some parents said they are still uncertain if their children were victims.

Roseanna Bryson, a counselor who works with young victims, gave the audience a brief list of possible symptoms and encouraged parents to talk frankly about sex.

"Don't interrogate your children; listen to them," said Mosco. "You will be aware of changes in their behavior immediately."

Pub Date: 12/16/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.