Former Carroll schools chief opts not to appeal conviction

Hyde decides, for now, to serve out rape term

March 31, 2004|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

With only two weeks left to ask a judge to reduce his sentence, former Carroll County schools Superintendent William H. Hyde has decided, for now, to serve out his 18-month term at the county jail for raping and sexually abusing an elementary school-age girl during the summer of 2002.

The decision not to appeal his conviction and avail himself of the appeal bond granted at his sentencing hearing in January means that Virginia authorities must hold off on plans to try the 62-year-old career educator on two felony counts of aggravated sexual battery. The young girl has alleged that the abuse also occurred during a trip to Williamsburg, Va., in July 2002.

"We've just kind of been waiting for things to get wrapped up there before we get started here," said Leslie Siman-Tov, a Virginia prosecutor who will handle the Hyde case. "As it stands now, we're still a go."

Meanwhile, Hyde remains in the county detention center, across the street from the school system's offices where he worked for 11 years as an assistant superintendent and two years in the top job.

Kathi Hill, Hyde's attorney, said of her client, "It's a difficult situation, at age 62, when you find yourself convicted and incarcerated for something that in your heart you know you did not do."

Although Hyde wrote a letter of apology to the girl - in which he said he was sorry for touching her genital area - he testified at trial in August that investigators and the victim's mother had bullied him into apologizing for something he had not done.

But at the end of the eight-day trial, the judge believed the girl. Calling her testimony "believable and convincing," Carroll County Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr., convicted Hyde on the six counts against him.

In January, Burns ordered Hyde to serve 18 months of a 15-year prison sentence and granted his request to remain free on $50,000 bail while appealing his conviction.

On the same morning as of the sentencing, Hyde and his attorneys learned that Virginia authorities had filed arrest warrants to charge him with sexually abusing the same girl in York County, Va.

Those charges will kick in as soon as Hyde tries to leave the Carroll County jail.

Capt. James Richardson, with the sheriff's office in York County, said the Virginia charges will act as a detainer, and Hyde will be placed under arrest as a fugitive from the commonwealth. He then likely would be held without bail during extradition proceedings.

Hill said Hyde has until April 14 to file a sentence-modification request in Carroll County.

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