Md. woman indicted on charges of molesting teen

November 07, 2008|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,

Sarah E. Ellison, a 31-year-old woman who ran a day care center at her Fort Meade home, was indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday on charges that she repeatedly molested a 14-year-old boy.

Ellison is the first Maryland woman indicted for sexual abuse of a minor under the two-year-old Project Safe Childhood Program, a partnership among state, local and federal officials designed to combat sexual exploitation of children.

According to the two-count indictment, the boy attended a middle school with Ellison's two stepchildren, whom he considered friends. He would sometimes hang out at her house after school because of the relationships. Between November 2005 and June 2006, the indictment alleges, Ellison and the boy had sexual contact by "touching each other between 10 and 20 times and, on occasion, mutually masturbating each other."

Ellison could not be reached for comment.

She's expected to surrender at an arraignment, which will likely be scheduled within the next week, according to the Maryland U.S. attorney's office. If convicted, Ellison could receive a maximum of 15 years in prison.

This year, 37 people have been indicted in Maryland through the state's Safe Childhood Program. Many of the cases involve distribution of pornographic images across state lines, an automatic federal offense. Prosecuting them at that level, rather than the state level, often leads to longer sentences and means victims don't have to testify, because prosecutors don't have to prove abuse occurred. Possession of the images is enough to convict, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in an interview this week.

Ellison's case falls under federal purview because her Fort Meade home is within the "special territorial jurisdiction of the United States."

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