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Hagerstown man sentenced for fondling niece

January 25, 2001

Hagerstown man sentenced for fondling niece



A 62-year-old Hagerstown man who admitted fondling his niece last summer at her Noland Drive home pleaded guilty to a third-degree sex offense Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court.

The man, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim, was originally sentenced to a four-year prison term.

Judge Frederick Wright "reluctantly" suspended that sentence, placing the man on probation for five years.

Wright also ordered the man to register as a sex offender, to have no contact with the victim and not to be alone with any child under 18.

"I see a lack of emotion and a lack of love here," Wright said after Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Gina Cirincion recounted the events.

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The child, who was 13 when the incident occurred, was upstairs in her home using the computer when her uncle came into the room, Cirincion said.

"He came in, put his hand inside her pants and touched (her genital area)," Cirincion said.

The girl, who didn't attend Thursday's hearing, told Cirincion and Jill Ritter, the victim/witness coordinator, that she didn't think she could talk about the incident with anyone.

A plea was worked out so she wouldn't have to testify.

"It means a lot to her that he is taking responsibility," Cirincion said of the guilty plea.

Wright said he couldn't believe that this hadn't happened before with someone else even though there was no official prior criminal record for the man.

Defense attorney John Chillas said his client feels remorse for the incident.

But again Wright was unsure.

"Have you apologized to her?" Wright asked the defendant.

"I wouldn't know what to say," he said, adding that he can only write his own name and therefore couldn't send her a letter.

- Marlo Barnhart

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