Candidate was acquitted of assault charge

July 11, 2006|By JOSH MITCHELL | JOSH MITCHELL,SUN REPORTER

Lt. Clarence W. Bell Jr., a state police commander who is running for Baltimore County executive, was charged with assaulting his wife in 2001 but was found not guilty, court records show.

Bell and his wife have also faced foreclosure on their Pikesville home, court records show.

Bell, 47, commander of the Waterloo barracks in Howard County, was recruited by county Republicans early this month to run against Democratic incumbent James T. Smith Jr. Bell will retire in December after almost 27 years with the state police.

Bell said yesterday that he has never assaulted his wife.

The assault charge against Bell stemmed from an argument at the couple's home in December 2001, which also led to his wife's being charged, court records show.

Clarence Bell called Baltimore County police and told an officer who went to the house that his wife had thrown an object at him, according to court documents. Sharron Bell said she also struck her husband in the left eye with her hand and that he grabbed her to stop the assault, the documents say.

Police charged Sharron Bell with second-degree assault.

She pressed charges against her husband, accusing him of sticking his knee into her stomach while choking her on the ground after she threw a television remote control in his direction, according to court records. He was charged with second-degree assault.

Bell and his wife were found not guilty after each invoked a privilege to not testify against a spouse, records show.

Sharron Bell said yesterday that her husband never assaulted her. "I kind of was short-fused with a lot of things," she said. "I kind of provoked a situation which shouldn't have been."

She said the assault charge against Clarence Bell "was kind of blown out of proportion, I should say, in conjunction with an aggressive lawyer."

Clarence Bell said he was "the victim" and that he called police because, as a member of law enforcement, he felt obligated to report a crime.

"If I come to work with a cut on my face, people will ask, and I could have gotten in trouble for not reporting and not doing something about it," Bell said.

Clarence Bell said he and his wife have moved on from the incident. They live with their 15-year-old son, who attends a military academy in Virginia.

"I'm one of his biggest supporters," Sharron Bell said of her husband's campaign for county executive.

In 1996 and 1999, the couple faced foreclosure proceedings. Each case was dismissed.

"We were having problems, and it affected us financially," Clarence Bell said. "We dealt with it and got past it."

A campaign spokesman for Smith, who plans to begin his re-election campaign at a rally today in Towson, declined to comment yesterday on Clarence Bell.

josh.mitchell@baltsun.com

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