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Man sentenced to 20 years in 1980 sex case

February 16, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Accused in 1980 of physically and sexually abusing one of his children and two stepchildren, a former Washington County man had his day in court Tuesday.

Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick Wright sentenced the 52-year-old man to serve 20 years in prison for sexually abusing his daughter and his stepdaughter and for physically abusing his stepson.

The man entered three guilty pleas involving only those children, now ranging in age from 26 to 30 years old. Additional charges relating to his other children were dropped in exchange for the pleas.

"It shocked me that this happened 20 years ago and it's coming up now," the man said.

His name is not being used to protect the identity of his children.

"This was a cruel life sentence on innocent children," said Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Lisa Hardy. "They were forced into labor, beaten and sexually abused."

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Complaints first surfaced from the children's school and were investigated in 1980 by the Department of Social Services, according to court records.

That investigation uncovered an incident in which the man hit his biological daughter in the head with a paint sprayer when she was 5 or 6 years old.

"He then used a hot glue gun to close the wound," Hardy said.

That same daughter was exposed to sexual abuse - both with her father and with teenage boys while the father watched, Hardy said.

The stepdaughter was forced into sex acts when she was 8 and made to watch child pornography and imitate those acts, Hardy said.

Physical abuse on the stepson occurred when he was 9 or 10 and was forced to work on his stepfather's rental properties in Hagerstown.

"He was beaten with a broom handle one day until the broom handle broke," Hardy told the judge.

Those three children were removed from the home in 1981 and the father was indicted by a Washington County grand jury on numerous charges, court records said.

But before the case could go to trial, the children's mother took the three children and fled to Florida, Hardy said.

The other children remained in Hagerstown with the defendant.

The criminal case was placed on an inactive docket, where it remained until 1996 when the man's stepdaughter contacted an attorney in Prince George's County complaining that her father was stalking her there, court records said.

That lawyer advised her to reopen the old case, beginning the process that led to Tuesday's guilty pleas.

After the state's attorney's office was contacted, the investigation was revived, and in 1998, the man was again indicted by a Washington County grand jury.

Jailed in Florida in October 1998, he was extradited to Maryland in 1999 and had been in the Washington County Detention Center awaiting trial.

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