Westminster man gets 20-year term in sexual assault

October 24, 2001|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A 53-year-old Westminster man was labeled a "sexual predator" yesterday in Carroll Circuit Court and sentenced to 20 years in prison for a sexual attack upon a homeless woman last year.

Joseph A. Hamm was convicted in July by a Carroll County jury of second-degree assault and a third-degree sex offense upon the 37--year-old woman, whom the prosecutor described as psychologically vulnerable.

The two met at a Westminster homeless shelter, and Hamm took the victim to his sister's house, then sexually assaulted her, said Deputy State's Attorney Tracy A. Gilmore, who called Hamm a predator who singles out women with mental or physical disabilities.

"She thought Mr. Hamm, who she knew as `Warlock,' was a friend - and look what he did," the prosecutor said, asking for two consecutive maximum 10-year sentences. "She gets a weekend away, and she gets attacked."

Gilmore said the attack occurred soon after Hamm was released from prison on his 1996 guilty plea to second-degree rape. The victim was an 18-year-old Westminster woman with physical disabilities, whom he invited for a home-cooked meal with his sister. No sister and no dinner were at the house, where Hamm lured the woman to the basement and attacked her, Gilmore said.

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