Man gets 25 years in rape, assault

He was also sentenced in child pornography

North Laurel

March 30, 2004|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A 46-year-old North Laurel computer specialist convicted of taking sexually explicit pictures of his girlfriend's preteen daughter and raping the child's young friend was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison.

Two Howard County Circuit judges imposed sentences - five years for child pornography and assault convictions in one case and 20 years for second-degree rape in the second - during separate hearings. The sentences will run consecutively.

Judge Diane O. Leasure, who imposed the five-year sentence, called Burrell A. Abram's actions "reprehensible." Judge Dennis M. Sweeney noted a psychologist's report that diagnosed Abram as a pedophile addicted to pornography.

"That is a troubling diagnosis," said Sweeney, who sentenced Abram to the longer prison term for the rape. The crimes took place over a few years, beginning when the girls were 11 years old.

In both cases, the judges agreed with prosecutor Lisa Brown that the terms recommended by state sentencing guidelines - probation to two years for the child pornography conviction and five to 10 years for the rape - were inadequate. "His actions are vile," Brown told Leasure, who sentenced Abram for three convictions in the pornography case. "He needs to be removed ... from society where he has access to other children."

After sentencing, Abram's lawyer, Michael Kaplan, called the penalties "inappropriate." Abram's mother, Rosa Johnson, said that her son's situation was "unfair."

"He said from day one he was innocent of the sex charges," she said. "He never touched these girls or any other young children."

But one of Abram's victims, who has since turned 14, said she was happy that he received the maximum penalty allowed for rape. She has learned, she said, that "people can be deceiving" and to tell her mother when someone hurts her.

The girl's mother told Sweeney that she had no idea what was going on at Abram's house until a detective came to talk to her daughter about the daughter of Abram's girlfriend. The woman would often ask Abram to care for her daughter, she said, because she was a single mother who worked two jobs.

"I feel bad for his family because he can be nice, but that is a monster under those clothes," the girl's mother said after the hearing. "He can destroy anybody with his kindness," she said. The Sun is not naming the mother to protect her daughter's identity.

Abram, an Army veteran and computer expert who lawyers said had top security clearance and did contract work for the National Security Agency, was convicted after separate trials in October and last month.

Jurors apparently believed the girl last month when she said Abram sexually assaulted her and his girlfriend's daughter in a locked bedroom in his home in the 9600 block of Canterbury Riding when they were preteens. A second set of jurors could not agree in October on whether the girlfriend's daughter had been sexually abused.

During the October trial, jurors deadlocked on sexual child abuse and related charges involving the girlfriend's daughter, who has since turned 14.

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