Judge refuses to lower man's bail

Suspect charged with sexual assaults being held on $50,000

February 18, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County judge refused yesterday to lower bail for a Mount Airy man charged with sexually abusing three children last year after tempting them with lollipops.

Robert E. Tibbits, 63, was returned to the Carroll County Detention Center in lieu of $50,000 bail after a hearing by Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr.

Tibbits has severe heart problems, said Daniel Shemer, assistant public defender, who asked for bail of $15,000. He said his client would agree to home detention while awaiting trial.

"We understand the concern from the neighborhood and will try to find an alternative place to live," he said.

In the first case, Tibbits was arrested Nov. 25 on charges of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 7 and 11, after luring them into his home with lollipops.

His daughter, with whom he lives, posted $15,000 bail from her retirement funds on Dec. 1.

On Dec. 9, Tibbits was arrested again on charges involving another 7-year-old girl, including second-degree rape. His bail was increased to $50,000.

Shemer noted that the incidents in the new charges did not occur during Tibbits' brief release. All the alleged incidents occurred between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, according to charging documents.

If convicted, Tibbits could receive 20 years in prison -- which would be tantamount to a life term because of his health, Shemer said. He has had open-heart surgery, takes nitroglycerin and needs a triple bypass.

Tibbits did not flee during the time he was free on bail, Shemer argued.

Deputy State's Attorney Tracy A. Gilmore said Tibbits was quoted as having said he would have fled if he had known he was going to be rearrested.

"These are significant charges with multiple victims, predatory behavior," she told the judge. The children "were lured into his house and van and bags of lollipops were found" in a police search, she said.

"He told investigators he can't help himself," she continued.

Tibbits, who said he was abused as a child, is "a significant danger to neighborhood children," Gilmore said.

Tibbits, a small, graying man in an open-neck shirt, told the judge, "Well, I just want to say I have no intention of going anywhere. I intend to see these charges through to the very end."

Prompted by dozens of calls, police and other officials held a meeting in mid-December to try to reassure parents and to advise them of signs of abuse.

Some residents were angry they were not notified that a convicted sex offender was in the neighborhood.

At the time, Gilmore and the other officials noted that the state law, enacted in 1995, did not apply to Tibbits, whose conviction in Hyattsville for sexual assault and battery of a child occurred in 1965. An earlier report of a 1980 conviction was erroneous.

Pub Date: 2/18/99

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