Carroll man fined, gets probation for abuse

Had sex with girl, bought beer for daughter's party

March 27, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A 48-year-old Westminster man received probation before judgment and a $1,000 fine yesterday for having sex with a 17-year-old girl at his daughter's sleepover party in December 2002, and for supplying beer to members of a girls high school basketball team.

Randall S. Matthews tearfully pleaded guilty in January to one charge of sexual abuse of a minor in his care and to nine misdemeanor charges of contributing to the condition of a child - the alcohol charge. Sentencing was postponed for an investigation, which included a finding by a psychologist that Matthews is not a sexual predator, pedophile or a danger to young women.

Matthews accepted the offer from retired Carroll County Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr., which will leave him with no criminal record. He was placed on three years of unsupervised probation that requires he stay away from the victim and her family.

Senior Assistant Carroll County State's Attorney Tracy A. Gilmore had asked that Matthews serve 18 months at the Carroll County Detention Center.

"I'm happy, [but] I'm a little bit filled with emotion," Matthews said after the sentencing.

Defense attorney Scott D. Shellenberger said the crime was a consensual act, but that "10 minutes" had ruined his client's life.

Later, Shellenberger said that Matthews was fired a week after his arrest from his job that he had held for 23 years as supervisor of residential services for the disabled at the Rosewood Center in Owings Mills. Matthews now is an investigator for an insurance company.

Eight girls were suspended from the basketball team at Westminster High School on charges they violated the school alcohol policy. The team's coach resigned after the Dec. 20 incident was reported.

The judge said he had had no contact from any of the victims except Matthews' daughter, who wrote a long and "very positive" letter about her father. Burns said he would adopt the defense attorney's comments as his own, including the finding that Matthews poses no threat to public safety.

Matthews quickly confessed, sparing the girls from having to testify in court, Burns said. He "suffered greatly," as "he had a great job and was very good at dealing with patients at Rosewood."

The judge stayed the guilty findings and ordered the $1,000 fine on one of the alcohol counts.

Gilmore declined to comment after the sentencing.

Shellenberger said he was "very happy with the judge's decision. ... This was always a consensual act, without force, and ... Mr. Matthews made a serious error in judgment."

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