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Man found guilty of sex offenses

August 12, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

A Washington County Circuit Court jury needed fewer than 15 minutes Thursday to return guilty verdicts against an El Salvadoran man charged with inappropriately touching a 10-year-old girl in March after pushing his way into her mother's Hagerstown-area apartment.

The girl, now 11, testified Thursday through tears that after the man pushed his way into her apartment, pretended to use her phone and began to touch her, she told him she needed to lock the door and ran to Foxwood Apartments' office.

Orlando Rene Salazar, 36, whose address is listed on charging documents as 11557 Robinwood Drive, Apt. 14, was found guilty by a jury of six women and six men of third-degree burglary, third-degree sex offense, fourth-degree sex offense, second-degree assault and trespassing in connection with the March 14 incident at Foxwood Apartments, near Hagerstown Community College.

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Circuit Judge John H. McDowell ordered a presentence investigation for Salazar and asked attorneys if it is possible for the Department of Parole and Probation to get any records on him from El Salvador. No one was sure. Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said it is her understanding that Salazar is not a United States citizen and is subject to deportation.

The girl testified that on March 14 she walked home from school like she normally does, but her routine changed as she approached her front door.

"That man to my right, he was waiting for me behind my stairway," she said, referring to Salazar, who was wearing a white T-shirt and gray sweatpants and was seated between his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Stephen Musselman, and interpreter Julia Cardenas, who quietly translated in Spanish for him, speaking into his left ear.

Salazar insisted to use her phone, the girl testified as she began to cry.

"I said, 'Nobody's allowed to come in my house when my mom's not here,'" she said, crying.

After Salazar got inside, he used the phone, but she could hear "beep, beep, beep" on the other end, she testified.

Soon after Salazar got off the phone, he asked her if she wanted to play a game, but when she said 'no,' he grabbed her hand and said there were stars on it, she testified. He then touched "me on my right front part," she testified. He then started to try to get up her shirt, which is when the girl testified that she told him she "needed to go lock the door," but instead ran to the safety of the apartment complex office.

Deputies later found Salazar, and took the girl and her mother in a cruiser to see if he was the man who touched her.

Musselman argued that Salazar "was paraded in front of this young girl" and specifically pointed out to her. He argued that they picked "the wrong man" because there were several other Hispanic men living in the neighborhood.

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