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Man pleads guilty to sex offense, assault charges

July 14, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

A 44-year-old Keedysville man pleaded guilty Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to second-degree sex offense and second-degree assault for having sexual contact with his stepson on two occasions in 2004.

The man, whose identity is being withheld to protect the identity of his stepson, faces a maximum of 30 years in prison on the combined charges. He will not be treated as a subsequent offender, a designation originally requested by the prosecution, after Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. announced the man's 1994 conviction for child abuse "does not appear to be a qualifying offense for the subsequent offender statute."

Under the subsequent offender statute, those convicted of specific sex abuse crimes who have prior convictions for sex offense crimes may be subject to increased penalties - up to life in prison - on the subsequent offense, Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Michele Ferris Hansen said. Hansen said she did not plan to seek a sentence beyond 30 years.

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The man has been held at the Washington County Detention Center on $750,000 bond since his Jan. 31 arrest. Long ordered that he continue to be held without bond pending the completion of a presentencing investigation requested by defense attorney Stephen H. Sacks. No date was set for sentencing.

The man was convicted July 1, 1994, in Montgomery County on two counts of child abuse, Hansen said.

For the sex offense charge Thursday, Hansen said the man had sexual contact with his stepson, who was about 8 or 9 years old, between Aug. 1, 2004, and Aug. 31, 2004. For the assault charge, she said only that the boy was assaulted Nov. 24, 2004, but attorneys agreed to elaborate and said that the man touched the boy's genitals.

Files were sealed in the separate cases, but Hansen said as part of the proceeding that the man was charged with 20 offenses involving his stepson between April 2004 and Dec. 31, 2005, in the case for which he entered pleas Thursday.

The second case, which Hansen said she would not bring back in exchange for his plea, involved another child younger than 14 years old. She said the man had faced eight counts in connection with that case.

In exchange for the man's pleas, Hansen told Long that the state agreed to drop remaining charges in the case involving his stepson, dismiss the separate case, not charge for alleged offenses involving victims committed during the same time frame and seek a 30-year sentence.

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