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'Candy man' gets 10-year suspended sentence

September 21, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A request from four young girls and their families "to get on with their lives" prompted prosecutors and a Washington County Circuit judge to agree Monday to suspend a 10-year prison sentence for a man who fondled the girls.

Known to Noland Village children as "The Candy Man" and "The Reverend," Malcolm F. Franklin pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree sex offense and two counts of second-degree assault.

In jail since May 3, Franklin, 39, of the 600 block of West Washington Street, will be released Oct. 2, under Circuit Judge Kennedy Boone's sentence.

"I'm convinced there was improper touching," Boone said. "But it's your first offense and the victims are reluctant to testify."

The victims, girls ranging in age from 13 to 16, consented to the plea agreement, which includes five years of probation, no contact with the victims, sex offender treatment and registration as a convicted sex offender.

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Boone added that Franklin is not to be alone with any female under the age of 18 during the probation period.

An additional 10-year sentence for the other second-degree assault charge and one-year sentences for the two sex offenses were imposed concurrently and also suspended.

The incidents came to light in late April when one of the victims told of incidents where Franklin touched her breast and her buttocks inappropriately.

Hagerstown City Police were contacted and an investigation turned up three more girls who told nearly identical stories.

When confronted by police and representatives of the Department of Social Services, Franklin confessed, saying he "had a problem with the flesh," court records said.

Franklin shook his head from side to side several times as Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Bill Hayden read the statement of charges in court Monday.

Franklin told his attorney, Brian Hutchison, to tell Boone that he admits the state could prove those charges if there was a trial. But he said he didn't agree with the facts as read in court.

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