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Stepfather gets prison in sex case

July 28, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A 33-year-old North Carolina man charged in the rape and sodomy of his stepdaughter when they lived in Leitersburg in 1998 was sentenced Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court to serve 10 years in prison.

The man, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim, now 13, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of second-degree sex offense.

He was returned to Hagerstown from North Carolina Oct. 12 by Maryland State Police and has been in the Washington County Detention Center awaiting trial.

"This was a crime of violence ... you took away the innocence of a child," said Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell.

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In May 1998, the victim, then 12, contacted Maryland State Police to report that her stepfather had sexually abused her many times between September 1997 and February 1998.

The girl told police her stepfather would come into her bedroom and order her to take her clothes off and have sexual intercourse with her, court records said.

The girl said she was forced to perform oral sex on her stepfather one time around Christmas 1997, court records said. She said she was sodomized in January 1998, court records said.

Each time, the stepfather warned her not to tell anyone, court records said. The child's mother and brother were in another part of the house during the encounters, court records said.

Trooper 1st Class Michael Potter said the child, her mother and brother remained in Washington County when the stepfather moved to North Carolina.

After the girl reported the incidents to her mother, police were contacted immediately, Potter said.

"I guess I'm sorry," the man said Tuesday in court. "I've let a lot of people down."

Additional charges of child abuse, second-degree rape, third-degree sex offense, sodomy, unnatural and perverted sex practice and second-degree assault were dropped Tuesday in exchange for the plea.

The stepfather's criminal record includes convictions in Baltimore for assault with intent to murder, forgery, theft and failure to appear in court, according to Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Gina Cirincion.

"He was released into our community in 1989 after serving five years in prison for assault with intent to murder," Cirincion said.

The child is doing well but isn't yet ready for counseling, according to Jill Ritter, victim/witness coordinator for the Washington County State's Attorney's office, who has been working with the family.

Defense attorney Gordon Lynn said the man needs sex offender treatment.

McDowell ordered that treatment and also ordered the man to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison on five years probation.

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