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Ex-cop sentenced to 10 years after sex offense plea

May 14, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

A former Hagerstown Police Department officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison on a sex offense conviction April 29.

Noel Lurelle Mills, 63, whose last known address before his arrest was 12904 Draper Road in Clear Spring, pleaded guilty to a second-degree sex offense charge. The charge stemmed from an incident in which he was accused of inappropriately touching a 12-year-old girl who stayed at his home overnight in 2003.

Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell ordered Mills to serve 20 years in state prison, but suspended 10 years of the sentence. He ordered Mills to serve five years probation after his release.

"You may not see yourself as a predator. ... You were entrusted with the most precious thing in life - the health and welfare of a child," McDowell told Mills.

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"You've injured this child in probably the most serious way," he said.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said that the victim and two other girls were in Mills care while at his home for an overnight visit. His defense attorney said Mills was acquainted with the victim's family.

Cirincion said the charge was not the first sex-related charge against Mills. She called him "a risk to our children."

Mills' attorney, Martin Palmer, said Mills has three years of college and worked for the police department from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.

Palmer said Mills told him the victim's family trusted him with the care of their children but said maybe it was "too much trust for a man alone."

"I know that touching in a sexual way was terribly wrong," he said.

The girl's father, who is not being named to protect the identity of the child, said Mills was a friend of the family.

"To turn around and have something like this happen. ... I can't make sense of it," he said.

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