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Ex-pastor pleads to solicitation

October 03, 2000

Ex-pastor pleads to solicitation



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


A Falling Waters, W.Va., man who was caught up in a Hagerstown City Police crackdown on lewd behavior in City Park in July was granted probation before judgment Tuesday in Washington County District Court.

James Allen Haskiell, 62, pleaded guilty to one count of solicitation for prostitution. District Judge Ralph France fined him $275 and placed him on probation for one year.

France ordered Haskiell to perform 35 hours of community service and to stay out of Hagerstown City Park.

Under probation before judgment, a person avoids having a conviction on his or her record if they make it through the probation period without being charged with an offense.

Conviction on a solicitation charge could have been punishable by a fine of $500 or a year in jail or both.

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"He's been married 39 years, has two grown children ... this has been extremely embarrassing for the family," said defense attorney Edward Kuczynski.

Kuczynski said Haskiell is in counseling.

Now retired, Haskiell was a pastor at the Marlowe (W.Va.) Assembly of God Church.

On July 25 at 9 a.m., Officer Charles Coy was working a plainclothes assignment in City Park when his civilian vehicle was passed slowly by a Ford Ranger. The driver waved as he passed, according to Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Mark Boyer.

After the Ford Ranger passed him again in the parking lot near the baseball fields, Coy backed his vehicle into a space, got out and smoked a cigarette, Boyer said.

Haskiell, the driver of the Ford Ranger, pulled in and first engaged Coy in small talk, Boyer said. Then Haskiell spoke of being interested in "fooling around" and there was talk about money, Boyer said.

A price of $20 was suggested by Haskiell who was immediately arrested, Boyer said.

The crackdown came as a result of complaints by residents.

In July, Sgt. Dennis Ballam said police had been conducting stings and increasing patrols both in the park and in the residential parking lot behind it.

He said residents who bring their children to play on jungle gyms and visit the museum do not want to walk past people engaging in illicit behavior.

Especially in the warmer months, the park continues to be attractive to prostitutes and couples because it has many semi-secluded areas shaded by trees.

Ballam said lewd behavior by couples at the park has become as prevalent as prostitution.

Many of the people arrested for solicitation in Hagerstown come from other states, he said.

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