Sex abuse case may be wider

Arundel man told wife of 2 other kids


A Severna Park man who police say confessed to sexually abusing his teenage daughter over seven years might have abused two other children, according to testimony in a hearing yesterday in which the man was ordered to stay away from minors.

Assistant State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling said in court that the man's wife did nothing to protect the girl, even after the girl told her about the abuse.

Kiessling also said the woman failed to report that her husband told her that he had abused two other children - one 15 years ago and the other two years ago. The man has not been charged in those cases and his attorney, Roger L. Harris Jr., would not comment on them.

Circuit Court Judge Robert A. Silkworth's order came three days after Anne Arundel County prosecutors and neighbors of the girl appeared in a courtroom to protest that the man had been allowed to return home despite being arrested June 16 and charged with sexually abusing his daughter.

"Obviously, this is an extremely serious case. ... I have serious concerns about the safety of this child and other children," Silkworth said.

The official who permitted the man to return home has been placed on administrative leave, and the director of the county Department of Social Services has acknowledged that serious mistakes were made in the case, leading to an "unacceptable" outcome. The agency apparently closed its investigation on July 5.

The Sun is not identifying the man, 46, because it would reveal the identity of his daughter. The Sun does not name victims of sexual assault.

Outside the courthouse, State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said that his office did not act sooner to remove the man from the home because prosecutors believed that the county DSS was acting on the girl's behalf.

"We believed they were protecting her," he said. "We're trying to find out why they closed the case."

Marcia Kennai, the county DSS director, would neither confirm nor deny that the girl's case was closed, and would not answer specific questions about the department's findings or actions. In a statement however, she admits that something went wrong in this case, though she said it was the result of "decisions and actions made by many parties."

"We are currently reviewing the case to determine how the decisions and actions of the department contributed to this result, and to determine what actions and policy changes are necessary to ensure that similar situations do not occur in the future," the statement reads.

At yesterday's hearing, Kiess- ling said the teenage girl told two of her friends that she had been abused and that the friends convinced the girl to tell her mother in February or March.

The mother waited a few weeks before confronting her husband, who then confessed to her that he abused the girl and two others, Kiessling said. When the mother did not call police, the friends told their parents, who called authorities.

The man was arrested after he told police that he touched the girl inappropriately, and that the alleged abuse began when the girl was 8 and continued on and off until January of this year, according to charging documents.

Prosecutors and neighbors said they believe that Court Commissioner Kerry Anderson erred when he signed the order that allowed the man to return home. Under the conditions of his release, the man was not to be alone with any of his children without the supervision of his wife or social services case workers or without a judge's written permission, according to court documents.

Anderson has been placed on leave until next week, when District Administrative Judge James W. Dryden, who oversees the court commissioners, returns.

"I placed him on administrative leave until he can sit down with the administrative judge, the head of commissioners and whoever else needs to look at this - what the facts are, what happened and if something was done wrong," said District Judge Robert C. Wilcox, who has been acting administrative judge.

Harris, the man's attorney, said in court yesterday that his client never violated the terms of his release.

"He has been 100 percent compliant," Harris said, adding that the man has been to the family house only a few hours each day, at most, and always with his wife present.

"Since his arrest he has never slept at the house," Harris said.

The man is now living with a relative in Anne Arundel County, Harris said.

The man's wife, other family members, friends and members of his church attended the hourlong hearing, as did about a half-dozen of the man's neighbors. The wife, who prosecutors said is not cooperating, declined to comment earlier this week. She could not be reached yesterday.

Harris, who objected to several of the prosecutor's statements, including the allegation that two other children had been abused, said that most of what was said yesterday will not be allowed at trial, and that he is concerned about his client's ability to get a fair trial after so much media coverage.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.