Salisbury official, mayor's daughter agree to settle charges stemming from fight

November 07, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

SALISBURY - A city councilwoman and the mayor's daughter closed a fractious chapter in Eastern Shore politics yesterday, agreeing to settle assault charges they had filed against each other after a scuffle outside a government office building.

Catherine S. Tilghman, 22, the daughter of Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman, pleaded guilty in Wicomico County District Court to disorderly conduct. She was sentenced to 18 months of unsupervised probation.

Second-degree assault charges against Councilwoman Rachel S. Polk, who lost her bid for re-election in the primary election Sept. 30, were dropped, said Gerald Purnell, one of two Dorchester County prosecutors brought in to handle the cases.

The agreement averted a potentially embarrassing trial in which the mayor, Salisbury's police chief, its city clerk and other prominent political figures were expected to have been called as witnesses.

Polk, a frequent critic of the mayor, said she was unhappy with how the plea arrangement turned out. After meetings with prosecutors, Polk said, she had expected Tilghman to enter a guilty plea for assault. "I did not know another deal had been made until late [Wednesday,]" Polk said. "I received no apology. Let's say the justice system worked for Ms. Tilghman."

In court papers, Polk accused the younger Tilghman of pushing her to the ground and kicking her in the groin during the melee Sept. 3. Tilghman said in her statement that she was lifted from the ground and bruised during a brief struggle.

"The Tilghman family wanted to do whatever it took to diffuse the situation," said defense attorney William W. McAllister Jr. "There was no need for a daylong trial for either side on misdemeanor charges."

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