Hagerstown man sentenced to 20 years for sexually abusing teen

Niel Jagger Engelbrecht charged after 14-year-old reported she had been abused for past two years

January 12, 2011|By DON AINES |

A Washington County Circuit judge Wednesday sentenced a Hagerstown man to 20 years in state prison for sexually abusing a teenager over a two-year period.

"The jury has convicted you regardless of your protestations," Judge John H. McDowell told Niel Jagger Engelbrecht, who was convicted on Sept. 30 of rape, third-degree sex offense, sex abuse of a minor as a continuing course of conduct, second-degree child abuse, sex abuse of a minor and second-degree assault.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office began investigating the case in November 2009 when a 14-year-old girl reported she had been sexually abused for the past two years, according to the application for statement of charges.

The victim initially reported to a school counselor that an unidentified friend had been the victim, but confessed to investigators that it was actually her, the charging documents said.

Most of the incidents took place at Engelbrecht's Kuhn Avenue home, with the last occurring a few days before the girl told the counselor, the documents said.

Police seized a pillow from Engelbrecht's house for DNA testing, the documents said.

The girl told investigators that she and Engelbrecht had sex on the pillow once, and his DNA was identified on it, Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson said after the sentencing.

Samples from two females were also detected on the pillow, but were too small to identify further, Wilson said.

The girl was called to the stand during the trial but, when asked about the allegations of sexual abuse, was unable to speak. The trial recessed until she was able to testify.

"She locked up and was unable to answer questions" until after an extensive break in the trial, McDowell reminded Engelbrecht Wednesday.

The judge said Engelbrecht abused a position of trust "solely to gratify your sexual needs and desires."

The girl and her parents were present in the courtroom, but Wilson said they did not wish to address the court.

Engelbrecht's mother and sister told the judge that he was a devoted father and good provider to his six children.

Defense attorney John R. Salvatore said Engelbrecht was aware he would be going to prison, but asked for leniency so that he could one day re-establish a relationship and provide for his children.

McDowell sentenced Engelbrecht to 30 years with 10 years suspended and ordered him to be placed on probation for five years upon his release.

Engelbrecht will also have to register with the state as a sex offender for the rest of his life, the judge told him.

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