Controversy prompts judge to delay decision in juvenile sex offense case

August 06, 1997

Controversy prompts judge to delay decision in juvenile sex offense case


Staff Writer

A dispute arose Wednesday in Washington County Juvenile Court between a 14-year-old boy who admitted touching the breast of a female classmate and the boy's grandfather who insisted the boy was innocent.

Because of the controversy, Judge John H. McDowell initially delayed his decision on whether to return the boy to live with his grandfather or put him in foster care while awaiting disposition in the fourth-degree sex offense case.

"I want some other living arrangement for this boy,'' McDowell said angrily after the grandfather's outburst.

But later, after being assured that a home study would be done, McDowell agreed to allow the boy to remain in the custody of his grandfather, who is his legal guardian.


The fourth-degree sex offense came to light May 15 when two female Smithsburg Middle School students reported to their principal, Jeff Stouffer, that the 14-year-old had grabbed them on the breasts May 8, according to Assistant State's Attorney Susan Lochbaum.

The police report from the Smithsburg Police Department investigation revealed that one of the girls told police she was also forced into the boys bathroom at the school by the boy.

She also told police the boy slapped her in the face while they were at the school track on another day, police reports said.

The other girl said she was grabbed on the breast by the boy at school, police reports said.

When confronted, the boy admitted to police and the principal that he had grabbed the girl's breast and apologized to the girl and her mother.

One girl's father stood up during the hearing and complained that his daughter was threatened with physical harm before she reported the incident to the principal.

"I want no contact,'' the father told the judge.

Stouffer told McDowell that the boy was seen in the principal's office 18 times during the last school year.

"We've done everything not to suspend him,'' Stouffer said. "That's what he wants - to be 16 and quit. He needs counseling to stay in school.''

The boy will be on community detention in his home until he is back before McDowell for final disposition on the case.

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