Hyde says he was pressed to apologize

Ex-schools chief charged with raping, molesting girl

March 12, 2003|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Former Carroll County schools Superintendent William H. Hyde took the witness stand yesterday in a pretrial hearing on charges that he raped and molested an elementary school-age girl, describing a verbal and emotional "beating" he said he took before saying in an apology letter that he had inappropriately touched the girl.

"My sense was they were dictating what needed to be said," Hyde, 61, testified, referring to the girl's mother and to the investigators who interrogated him in the hours before he was arrested in August at the Maryland State Police barracks in Westminster.

"I felt like I was being beaten. ... It was constant. Mentally. Verbally. Emotionally."

During testimony earlier in the day, the lead investigator in the case, Ruth Ann Arty, revealed that authorities in Virginia also have interviewed the girl about alleged sexual abuse that the girl said occurred in Williamsburg.

Arty testified that the girl told her that what happened at her family's home - alleged abuse in which Hyde has been charged - also occurred in Williamsburg.

Arty, who testified that Hyde was in Williamsburg for the Fourth of July weekend, referred those allegations to authorities there.

Capt. James Richardson, commander of the investigation division of the sheriff's office in York County, Va., said last night that his department is investigating a complaint involving aggravated sexual battery and involving a child at a Williamsburg hotel between July 3 and July 6.

Richardson said he could not say whether the complaint involved Hyde and that he would need an arrest warrant before identifying a suspect.

"But I can tell you we are investigating," Richardson said.

Hyde showed little emotion yesterday in court during the second day of testimony in response to his attorneys' requests that a Carroll Circuit Court judge bar from the trial Hyde's statements to police, two apology letters to the girl and other evidence.

During more than two hours of questioning on the witness stand - first by one of his attorneys, then by a county prosecutor - Hyde occasionally wiped his palms on his suit pants and fidgeted with his fingers as a sheen of sweat formed on his forehead.

Hyde was an assistant superintendent of the Carroll County public schools from 1987 until 1998, when he was appointed superintendent. He quit in August 2000 to take a job in a small school system in Montana, and he left that position last summer to become an educational consultant.

Charged in August

Hyde was charged in August with sexual child abuse, third- and fourth-degree sex offenses and second-degree assault. He was indicted on similar charges in September.

A county grand jury added a new and more serious count last week, charging him with raping the girl he is accused of molesting.

Hyde, who has been free on bail and living in Idaho since his arrest, could receive up to 20 years in prison if convicted of second-degree rape.

Calling his client to the witness stand, defense attorney Edward M. Ulsch gave Hyde a chance to explain what happened in the hours leading to his arrest.

Hyde described the shock of learning of the allegations against him Aug. 7, hours after a divorce hearing that ended his marriage of 41 years.

He testified that he hardly ate or slept much of the night and spent most of the evening compiling a timeline for Arty of his activities during a visit to Westminster in July, when the sexual abuse is alleged to have occurred.

`Really tense'

He met with Arty at 8 the next morning and testified that by the time he got to the state police barracks less than two hours later to take a lie-detector test, he was "really tense" and had "knots in my system."

During the interrogation after the polygraph test that he failed, he felt worse, Hyde testified.

"Ruth Ann Arty said something like she believed I had done it. She believed it was true that I had done this," Hyde testified. "We discussed it. They kept going round and round, and I thought, `My God, I can't have done this. I failed the test. [The girl] said this. Ruth Ann Arty believes it.' And I began doubting myself. I must have done something. I didn't know what it was. I kept saying if I had done something, I didn't remember."

He said he wrote an apology note and then a second apology letter to the girl after badgering from investigators.

`No recollection'

"I put in [the] second letter, `I'm sorry I touched your vagina,'" Hyde testified. But he said he made it clear to investigators that he had "no recollection of this."

He said he told them, "I'm giving this to you because you say this is what [the alleged victim] needs to hear."

Asked by Tracy A. Gilmore, Carroll's deputy state's attorney, whether he was saying that investigators told him to admit something he didn't do, Hyde responded, "They told me I need to write something to help [the girl] heal."

Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. made no ruling yesterday. Attorneys are scheduled to offer their arguments on the defense motions this morning. Hyde's trial is scheduled for June 23.

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