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Child sex case nets jail time

March 14, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

A Hagerstown man was sentenced to 90 days in jail Monday for touching a 5-year-old girl.

Richard Clark Stull Jr., 22, entered an Alford plea to third-degree sex offense. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to convict.

Prosecutors allowed Stull to enter the Alford plea to a fourth-degree, rather than a third-degree sex offense. Child abuse and second-degree assault charges were dismissed.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Bill Hayden said Stull allowed the 5-year-old girl's father to stay with him after he had separated from his wife.


Last April, the girl, now 6, went home after being alone with Stull and told her mother that he "tickled my bug," Hayden said.

Stull initially denied to Washington County Sheriff's Department investigators that he had been alone with the girl. He changed his story after taking a lie-detector test, Hayden said.

"She is a young 6 years old," Hayden said. "She is extremely shy."

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III rejected Stull's request for probation, giving him a one-year jail sentence with all but 90 days suspended. Stull will serve his time at the Washington County Detention Center, and will be on probation for three years upon his release, Boone ordered.

Defense attorney Wiley Rutledge argued for leniency, noting that his client has no prior criminal record.

He said Stull was playing with the girl and tickling her generally when his hand inadvertently slipped below her waist. He said the girl's clothes were on at all times.

"There was nothing unusual going on whatsoever," Rutledge said. "There was no sexual gratification whatsoever It was an accident."

In a tearful statement, the girl's mother asked Boone for a harsh penalty. She said her daughter withdraws whenever the subject comes up.

"She stops talking to people and she has nightmares," she said. "This has taken a toll on my whole family."

The girl's father said his daughter has developed a distrust of men.

"My daughter's just now getting to where she wants to spend weekends with me," he said. "She's still a little edgy around me."

Boone expressed disappointment that the girl has not received professional help and urged the parents to get her therapy.

"It's almost obligatory on the parents to get this girl some counseling," he said.

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