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Man extradited from Europe on rape charges pleads guilty to assault

Klaus Werner Vonmahr, a German national, faces up to 25 years in prison

July 20, 2011|By DON AINES
  • Vonmahr
Vonmahr

A former Hagerstown man extradited from the Czech Republic earlier this year on decade-old rape charges pleaded guilty to first-degree assault Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court.

Klaus Werner Vonmahr, 51, a German national, was arrested in the Czech Republic on Oct. 22, 2010, after applying for a driver's license.

He was returned to Washington County in March to face charges of first- and second-degree rape, third-degree sex offense, first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault and two counts of false imprisonment in a 2000 case.

Vonmahr faces up to 25 years in prison for the assault conviction. Judge Daniel P. Dwyer set his sentencing for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 2.

Defense Attorney David Harbin told Dwyer that Vonmahr denies the rape and sexual assault allegations. Harbin said he would have two or three witnesses testify on Vonmahr's behalf at the sentencing hearing.

The incident for which Vonmahr was charged surfaced on Nov. 30, 2000, when a woman stopped a Maryland State trooper on Frederick Street. The woman had sustained several injuries and was taken by ambulance to the former Washington County Hospital, retired state police investigator Michael Potter testified at Vonmahr's April 19 preliminary hearing.

Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said Tuesday that the woman had been involved in a relationship with Vonmahr, separated from him because of domestic violence and then resumed the relationship in September 2000.

On Nov. 29, 2000, the woman rejected Vonmahr's sexual advances, and he pinned her down, demanding that she tell him of any relationships she had during their separation, Michael said.

Vonmahr beat and choked the woman and told her he was going to have sex with her, Michael said. The woman was afraid to resist because she feared for her life, he said.

The woman was later bound with duct tape, a belt and a necktie, and Vonmahr forced several prescription pills into her mouth when she tried to get loose, Michael said. Vonmahr later untied the woman and left the house, after which she left and waved down the officer, he said.

"Her head was extremely swollen" with one side of her face black from bruises, Michael told Dwyer.

A warrant was issued for Vonmahr's arrest on Dec. 1, 2000, but he had already left the country, Michael said earlier this year.

On Tuesday, Michael said Vonmahr wrote the woman from Germany, apologizing for his "act of unkindness," Michael said, reading from the letter.

Germany would not extradite Vonmahr back to the United States, but did not rule out that Vonmahr returned to the country sometime in the past decade under another name.

Michael said he would produce photographs of the woman's injuries and medical records at sentencing. He told Dwyer he is also trying to determine whether Vonmahr, who came to this country when he was 11, had any criminal record in Germany from the time he fled the country to his return last year.

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