2 Hickey residents charged in sex case

State investigating security, supervision of roommates at school

August 27, 1999|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

An 18-year-old resident of the Charles H. Hickey School has been charged with committing a "perverted sexual practice" with his younger roommate at the facility, and the incident is being investigated by the Maryland State Police and the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The charges stem from an incident Aug. 19 in Douglas Hall on the Cub Hill campus, according to officials at the school and documents filed in Baltimore County's district court. Jesse Allen Adkins, 18, and his 15-year-old roommate were locked in their room and began playing a kind of "truth or dare" game that turned sexual, according to charging documents.

The younger boy reported the events to a counselor the next day, officials said, resulting in charges against both boys. The younger boy, whose name is not being published because of his age and the nature of the incident, is being charged as a juvenile with performing a perverted practice, according to state officials.

The incident raises new questions about security and supervision at the 355-bed facility in northeastern Baltimore County, which is owned by the state and operated by a private company, Youth Services International Inc. It comes after the rape of a staff member at Hickey and the escape of two juveniles earlier this year.

"It was a major mistake on Hickey's part -- definitely a supervision issue," the father of the younger boy said yesterday. "This has been the hardest week of my life."

The father is not being named by The Sun to protect the son's identity.

Walter G. R. Wirsching, assistant director of program services for the Department of Juvenile Justice, said yesterday that a preliminary investigation by his department indicated that no breakdown of supervision had occurred.

"It appears that these kids created a lot of commotion, and later on there was less, so the staff may have believed things were quieting down. I don't think this was sustained activity -- I think it was episodic and occurred over a few hours," he said.

Wirsching said that the department had asked Hickey staff to check residents on the unit, which houses boys who are awaiting more permanent placement within the system, every 10 minutes -- and it appeared that staff members had complied with that request.

State Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, a Democrat whose 8th District includes the Hickey School, said yesterday that the incident would be fully investigated by state officials.

"This is a public school, but it's not the high school down the street," Bromwell said of Hickey. "I'm upset, but I'm not surprised. I'm not ready to point the finger of blame."

Officials at Hickey yesterday could not explain how the sexual activity could have occurred on the unit, which has 15 beds and three adults supervising it at all times.

"The two students were roommates and had been together for approximately three weeks," said Mary Slechter, special assistant to the director. "The students have been separated -- one has been placed on another unit."

Asked to explain how the activity escaped the supervisors' notice, Slechter replied, "I cannot."

She said that no one has been disciplined or reassigned as a result of the incident and that Hickey officials are awaiting a complete report from the state police before taking action.

Wirsching said that the department would look carefully at policies for assigning roommates at Hickey, but this case did not appear to violate policy.

"A lot of times, room assignment is done more on physical maturation than on age," Wirsching said.

Pub Date: 8/27/99

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