Carroll man pleads guilty in sexual abuse of high school girl

January 15, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

A 48-year-old Westminster man pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of sexual abuse and providing alcohol to minors after admitting that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl at his daughter's sleepover party, where he bought beer for members of a high school girls' varsity basketball team.

Asking for a chance to rebuild his life, Randall S. Matthews tearfully told Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. in Carroll County Circuit Court that his bad judgment and weakness on Dec. 20, 2002, led to consequences that turned his world upside down, including damaging his relationship with his two teen-age children.

His 16-year-old daughter was one of eight girls suspended from playing basketball for the rest of the season at Westminster High School after allegedly violating the Carroll County school system's alcohol policy. The team's longtime coach resigned.

"I know I'm here today for punishment, but much of my punishment started a year ago," said Matthews, who shook as he told the court how he had lost his job and his reputation.

Matthews pleaded guilty to one count of felony sexual abuse and eight misdemeanor counts of serving alcohol to minors. The state dismissed nine other charges as part of a plea agreement.

Tracy A. Gilmore, the county's deputy assistant state's attorney, recommended a sentence of five years with all but 18 months suspended. "These girls have been punished, and it's appropriate the defendant be punished," Gilmore said.

Although the girl was older than Maryland's age of consent, which is 16, and told police that she agreed to have sex, authorities charged Matthews with child abuse under the care and custody segment of the statute on child sex abuse.

The judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation. He set sentencing for March 26.

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