Fire lieutenant charged in child sex abuse case

Finksburg man placed on administrative duty at Columbia headquarters

Howard County

March 02, 2004|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

A lieutenant in the Howard County fire department has been assigned to administrative duty after being charged last month with child sexual abuse and assault stemming from an alleged incident at his Finksburg home in January, according to charging documents and fire officials.

The state's child abuse and sexual assault unit in Carroll County charged Mark E. McKinney, 35, of the 2300 block of Da Lib Road with child abuse, sexual abuse of a minor, a fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault of a 15-year-old.

The Sun does not publish names or other information that would identify victims of alleged sexual abuse.

Reached by telephone at his home yesterday, McKinney refused to answer questions about the case.

"I'm not willing to talk about it. Talk to my lawyer," McKinney said.

His attorney, Craig M. Genler, said McKinney surrendered to authorities and was released after posting a $50,000 bond.

"The case will be tried in the courtroom," Genler said.

McKinney, a 7 1/2 -year member of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, worked at Rivers Park Station No. 10 in Columbia's Kings Contrivance village and supervised a three-member crew, said fire department spokesman Bill Mould.

After his arrest Feb. 12, McKinney notified the fire department of the charges against him and was transferred to the department's headquarters on Columbia Gateway Drive, Mould said.

"Until he is proven guilty, he would not face any departmental charges," Mould said. "The department would let the case run its course in the courts before it did anything."

"If it goes to court, or if he pleads guilty to a charge, then of course the department would take some sort of action," Mould said.

Officials with the child abuse and sexual assault unit - a team of investigators and prosecutors from the state police and the state's attorney's office - could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Before joining Howard County's fire department, McKinney was a volunteer firefighter for several years at the Gamber and Community Volunteer Fire Company in Carroll County, according to the chief of that department.

Chief Dennis Brothers said he could not recall how many years McKinney had volunteered for the department but said McKinney was a "card-carrying member" who had shown up for duty as recently as eight or nine months ago.

Brothers said that once the charges were filed against McKinney, his membership was temporarily suspended. He will not be allowed to volunteer at the department, pending the resolution of the case.

"Once anybody is charged with any crime, you're automatically suspended," Brothers said. "That's a standard policy. If he's convicted, then, of course, [his membership would] be terminated."

McKinney's attorney said a preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for March 19.

Sun staff writer Athima Chansanchai contributed to this article.

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