Hyde charged in child sex case

Former head of Carroll public schools is freed on $50,000 bond

August 10, 2002|By Jennifer McMenamin and Sheridan Lyons | Jennifer McMenamin and Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Former Carroll County schools Superintendent William H. Hyde has been arrested and charged with molesting a young girl.

Police arrested Hyde, 61, Thursday night at the Maryland State Police barracks in Westminster, where investigators had spent nearly all day questioning him about the suspected abuse of the elementary school-age girl. Hyde, who resigned his job in Carroll County two years to take a position as superintendent of a small school system in Montana, was released early yesterday on $50,000 bond.

Later yesterday, Carroll County prosecutors sought to have Hyde rearrested so that they might argue for a higher bail and more restrictive conditions for his release. Carroll District Judge Marc G. Rasinsky declined to issue a bench warrant for Hyde's arrest, but the judge added a requirement that Hyde give up his right to fight extradition to Maryland.

Authorities and school officials in Maryland and Montana expressed surprise at Hyde's arrest and said they have no reason to suspect him of abusing any students during his 39-year career in education.

In Carroll, Hyde faces charges of child sexual abuse, third- and fourth-degree sex offenses and second-degree assault that police say occurred July 15 at the home of the girl's family, court records show. An examination of the girl "showed evidence consistent with long-term sexual abuse and a recent injury consistent with genital contact," according to court documents.

Hyde was in the area for a hearing Wednesday on his pending divorce.

Hyde abruptly resigned from the Carroll school system two years ago amid a grand jury investigation into bungled school construction projects and mismanagement of the 28,000- student school system. He took a job as superintendent of the 222-student Seeley Lake Elementary School District in northwestern Montana.

Hyde could not be reached yesterday for comment. He did not return phone messages left on his cell phone or at the Hunt Valley hotel where he was registered as a guest yesterday. He also did not respond to a hand-delivered letter left at the hotel or to phone messages left at the home of a girlfriend in Moscow, Idaho, whose address is listed in court papers.

A District Court commissioner set bail for Hyde about 3:30 a.m. yesterday and ordered him to have no contact with the girl and to notify the court of any change of address. Hyde posted bond and was released about two hours later.

Carroll State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes complained that bail had been set too low with insufficient conditions for the release of Hyde, who listed the Idaho address and a post office box in Montana in court papers.

Hyde "has no in-state Maryland address, no fixed address, and we're truly not aware of any reliable address out of state," Barnes said. "I'd have preferred no bond, and let a judge decide, so that we would have had the opportunity to present our position."

Besides restricting Hyde's ability to fight extradition, Rasinsky ordered that he have no unsupervised contact with anyone younger than age 18 and that he surrender his passport and any firearms. Hyde is to be notified of the changes by mail and given the opportunity to contest them at a hearing scheduled for Aug. 20.

If convicted of the most serious charge Hyde could be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Hyde was an assistant superintendent in Carroll County from 1987 to 1998, when he became superintendent. Susan W. Krebs, president of the Carroll school board, said she heard nothing to indicate that Hyde had harmed any students during those years.

"I truly don't think this has anything to do with our school district," she said. "With all that went on with him, we'd know if something like this was going on in our schools."

A school official in Seeley Lake, Mont., was similarly adamant about Hyde's clean record there, where he worked until his contract expired June 30.

"The board would have renewed his contract, but he wanted to go into a consulting business," said Sally Johnson, the district's business manager, who last saw Hyde July 22 when he stopped at the office.

The Missoula County prosecutor in Montana said no allegations were made against Hyde during the two years he worked there. "He's not charged with anything here and as far as I know, no one has complained about him," District Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg said.

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