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Man faces sex offense, kidnapping counts

July 31, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Washington County Sheriff's deputies on Wednesday arrested a man in connection with the repeated disappearances of a 14-year-old Hagerstown girl.

James Elliott Poole, 18, was wanted on charges of failing to comply with police orders and a sex offense in Washington County and with kidnapping charges in Franklin County, Pa.

Deputies from the Washington County Sheriff's Department arrested Poole at about 3:30 p.m. at a trailer in Keedysville, deputies said.

Deputies said the missing 14-year-old girl was with Poole when deputies took him into custody. The girl's name is not being published because of her age.

In June, Hagerstown City Police charged Poole, of 1217 W. Washington St., with six counts of failure to comply with a peace order and one count each of contributing to the condition of a child, trespassing on private property and a fourth-degree sex offense. Poole also was charged with contempt and resisting arrest, according to court records.

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Poole was being held at the Washington County Detention Center Wednesday on $55,000 bond.

Poole, wearing a silver and black Oakland Raiders jersey and silver shackles, showed virtually no emotion during his Wednesday evening appearance before District Court Commissioner Craig Clevenger.

Mercersburg (Pa.) Police Sgt. William Sheppard said police there charged Poole, whose most recent Mercersburg address is 106 S. Main St., with aggravated assault, statutory sexual assault and simple assault, and kidnapping.

Police also charged Poole in connection with the theft of a car, a series of thefts of items from cars and trying to avoid capture during a car chase with police.

Sheppard alleged that Poole held the girl at the residence against her will from June 16 through July 12.

Sheppard alleged that Poole abused the girl "almost on a daily basis."

"He basically threatened her and terrorized her so that she couldn't leave," Sheppard said. "He kept her confined to the apartment and would only let her leave when she was in his accompaniment."

On July 12, police located the two at the residence, but Poole and the girl escaped through a rear window, Sheppard said. Days later, Sheppard entered into a brief unsuccessful car chase with Poole that escalated to speeds near 100 mph for a one-mile stretch on local and secondary roads, Sheppard said.

Investigators from the FBI got involved in the Poole investigation, according to multiple police agencies. FBI spokesman Barry Maddox could not be reached for comment.

The girl and Poole have a history of running off together dating back to at least January, police said.

The 14-year-old has willingly left her home for extended periods with Poole several times during the year, according to Hagerstown Detective Patricia Moulton. Moulton said police were "concerned for her well-being" because they did not believe this disappearance was voluntary.

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