Man, 34, gets probation for assault on girl

Defendant admits molesting child at Anne Arundel park

May 20, 2008|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,Sun reporter

A Prince George's County man was sentenced yesterday to probation for assaulting a 13-year-old patient of a psychiatric hospital during a field trip to Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County, after prosecutors said they would not be able to prove allegations that she and another girl were raped.

Juan R. Payz Reyes, 34, of the 2300 block of Pemberell Place in District Heights, pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree assault. Reyes was initially charged with two counts of first-degree rape, sodomy and other charges in the alleged attacks Aug. 12 on her and an 18-year-old girl, both patients of the Sheppard Pratt Heath System, while swimming in the Chesapeake Bay.

The Sun does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Paul A. Hackner sentenced Reyes, who has been in custody since the incident, to 364 days in jail, all suspended, and three years of supervised probation. Hackner said he was accepting the plea based on "evidentiary issues."

"We simply did not have enough evidence to move forward on a sexual offense," said Kristin Fleckenstein, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office, who said that prosecutors would have faced "insurmountable hurdles."

Reyes' attorney, Ron I. Earnest, said of his client, "He regrets extremely that this happened. ... He had been drinking."

Reyes told police the contact was consensual.

Prosecutor Pamela Alban said a group of about 20 girls from the Towson hospital arrived at the beach, and while staff members were finding a spot to have lunch, some of the girls, including the two alleged victims, entered the water.

Reyes watched the girls and then began playing with them, Alban said, then "the defendant approached [the 13-year-old] from behind and had unconsented contact." Alban said the girls "stayed at the beach unsupervised for the balance of the afternoon."

A spokeswoman for the hospital did not respond to a message seeking comment.

The 13-year-old did not tell staff initially, but as the group was leaving, she alerted staff members to Reyes, and he was arrested.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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