Man sentenced to 10 years on child sex offense charges

July 08, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A Mount Airy man received a 10-year prison term yesterday in Carroll County Circuit Court, after pleading guilty to sex offenses against three local girls.

Robert Eugene Tibbits, 64, who had lived with his daughter in Mount Airy for about five years, might not survive the sentence, the judge and both attorneys said.

According to statements at previous hearings, Tibbits has had open-heart surgery and needs a triple bypass. He has had three heart attacks, including one since his incarceration, said Tracy A. Gilmore, deputy state's attorney.

Tibbits was arrested Nov. 25 and charged with sexually assaulting two girls, ages 7 and 11, after luring them into his home with lollipops. After posting bail, he was arrested again on Dec. 9 on charges of assaulting another 7-year-old before the Nov. 25 arrest. Bail was set at $50,000.

He has remained at the Carroll County Detention Center since his arrest Dec. 9. A search of his home turned up bags of lollipops.

Tibbits did not speak before his sentencing by Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr.

Tibbits, a small, graying man who had said he was abused as a child, had initially vowed "to see these charges through to the very end."

He pleaded guilty to six third-degree sex offenses.

One of the girls told state police and state's attorneys' investigators that "Mr. Bob" kept bicycles at his home for neighborhood children to ride, and hid money under his mattress and in his pockets for them to find, according to the statement of facts to support the guilty plea.

Burns sent Tibbits to the Division of Correction for assignment to serve 10 years of a 30-year sentence. The balance was suspended, to be followed by supervised probation with an order that he have no contact with anyone younger than 18.

Burns agreed that Tibbits might not survive prison because of his serious heart condition, but said the crimes demanded such punishment. The children were not in court, but some parents were and the judge thanked them for their written comments to him.

Janette E. DeBoissiere, assistant public defender, had asked for a six-year sentence, while Gilmore sought 20 years.

Tibbits was convicted in 1965 in Hyattsville for sexual assault and battery of a child.

His arrest last year led to an uproar in the community, with parents asking police and prosecutors why they weren't notified that he had moved into the area.

The notification law only applies to offenses after 1995, Gilmore said, so the law would not cover Tibbits' case.

"If I won a conviction today for an offense that occurred in 1994, he would not have to register," Gilmore said. Now, however, "if he ever gets out of jail he will have to register with the local police authority."

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