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City man sentenced in case of sex abuse

August 06, 2004

A 64-year-old Hagerstown man who admitted to molesting his granddaughter was sentenced to eight years in state prison Thursday by a Washington County Circuit judge.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil told Circuit Judge John H. McDowell that he was seeking a prison sentence of no less than five years as part of a plea agreement.

James Reed, the man's defense attorney, said that the man, who is not being named to protect the identity of his granddaughter, pleaded guilty to sexual child abuse in May.

Before sentencing him to 15 years in state prison with all but eight years suspended, McDowell said "thank goodness" the case is being handled in state court rather than in federal court, where sentencing guidelines are not flexible.

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McDowell said that when he sentences people on such a charge, he thinks about the impact child molesters' actions will have on their victims' futures.

In this case, McDowell said, "I don't have to look at the future."

Reading from the girl's victim impact statement, McDowell said that the girl "felt like it was my fault, so I didn't tell."

The man pleaded guilty to a charge related to the molestation of one of his granddaughters, but another granddaughter also was listed in the charging documents as alleging she was molested.

"I cut my wrists and was hospitalized for two weeks," McDowell said, reading from the one girl's letter.

He said that the girl was at first afraid to tell anyone that her grandfather had touched her, but later felt relieved when someone took notice.

"She felt like she did something wrong," McDowell said, referring to her statement. He read: "I used to look up to my grandfather, but now I don't because he was wrong."

McDowell said that the girl wants no one to touch her and said that both girls are "very protective of their bodies."

The man, when given a chance to speak, said, "I don't want her to think that what happened in our residence was her fault. I was the guardian on duty."

"Through my weakness and failure, I did not step up," the man said.

The man said that he loved the girls and hopes to be able to see them again.

He said that he wants his granddaughter to be able to visit his wife.

McDowell said that the man's remorse was "a little too late."

McDowell ordered that the man serve four years of supervised probation upon his release from prison. The man is to have no contact with his grandchildren or any unsupervised contact with any minors under the age of 15, McDowell ordered.

He was ordered to register as a child sex offender upon his release and to pay $736.56 owed in therapy and medical bills to his granddaughter's father.

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