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Teenager admits impregnating 10-year-old girl

October 30, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

A 15-year-old Hagerstown boy who experts said has the education level of a second- or third-grader admitted during a Washington County Juvenile Court hearing Wednesday that he impregnated a 10-year-old girl last fall.

An admission in juvenile court is the equivalent of a guilty plea in adult court.

The boy entered the admission to one count of fourth-degree sex offense, which is a misdemeanor charge. The youth's name is not being published because he is a juvenile.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Steven C. Kessell said Hagerstown Police officers were called to Washington County Hospital on April 1 because a 10-year-old girl had miscarried a child in the 15th to 20th week of pregnancy.

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The girl's mother told police she did not know her daughter was pregnant until the miscarriage, Kessell said. When police spoke to the girl several days later, she said she had unprotected sex with the boy.

The boy admitted to police that he had sex with the girl.

The punishment phase was delayed so experts could evaluate the boy to determine if further sex offenses are likely and for possible neurological problems.

In June, the boy was found not competent to stand trial because a state psychologist said he could not grasp more difficult concepts such as the meaning of a plea bargain, or how he could assist himself or his attorney.

By August, state psychologists found he was capable of understanding court concepts, and recommended he be found competent to stand trial. The boy's attorney then requested a private psychologist evaluate him.

On Wednesday, Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, who was sitting in juvenile court, asked Assistant Washington County Public Defender Margaret Teahan to go through a series of questions usually asked by a judge to determine if the defendant understands what is going on.

At one point, Teahan asked the boy if he knew why he was in court, and if he knew he was admitting to a fourth-degree sex offense.

She said the charge meant "that you and (the girl) were physical together ... and you touched her in a part that is considered private ... (and) she didn't say it was okay. ... Do you understand that?"

"Mmm hmm," the boy said.

After Beachley accepted the boy's admission, pediatric neuropsychologist Robert Gray of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore said he examined the boy and interviewed family members. Gray said the boy has been well-behaved since the charges were filed, but said he needs the help of several agencies to be rehabilitated.

Gray said it was not clear if an accident when the boy was 9 years old led to a brain injury that could have caused psychological problems.

Beachley ordered the boy to undergo a neurological examination. He allowed the boy to return to his grandmother's home with a monitoring anklet while he awaits the hearing to determine his punishment next month.

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