Hagerstown man found guilty of sexually abusing girl

Chad M. Hook faces up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 23, 2012

December 07, 2011|By DAN DEARTH |
  • Chad Hook
Submitted photo

After deliberating for nearly 4 1/2 hours Wednesday, a Washington County Circuit Court jury found a Hagerstown man guilty of sexually abusing a girl nearly a decade ago in a home in the city's North End.

Chad M. Hook, 35, of 44 E. Washington St., was found guilty of one count each of second-degree sex offense and sexual abuse of a minor as a continuing course of conduct.

The jury found Hook not guilty of a second-degree rape charge.

Hook also had been charged with third-degree sex offense, but Circuit Court Judge Daniel P. Dwyer dismissed that count because of insufficient evidence.

Hook faces up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 23, 2012.

Hagerstown police received a report April 29 that the alleged victim disclosed during therapy sessions that Hook sexually abused her between 2001 and 2003, according to court documents.

Investigators determined the abuse occurred in a home on North Prospect Street.

In 2003, Hook was investigated for causing the death of his 3-year-old son, Christopher J. Hook. The child died of compression asphyxia when he became wedged under his father while they slept on a sofa in the Prospect Street home, The Herald-Mail has reported.

As part of that investigation, police made inquiries to determine whether the girl and another male child in the house had been sexually abused, records show. A physical examination of those children revealed anal injuries.

During closing arguments on Wednesday, defense attorney Kelly S. Cromer, who with Daniel Mahone represented Hook, questioned why investigators didn't pursue the case more thoroughly in 2003 if they suspected something was wrong.

Cromer said the prosecution's case was weak because investigators dropped it several times for lack of evidence.

Cromer also argued that the girl had a history of making sexual abuse accusations.

"In the past, she has accused several other people," Cromer told the jury. "There is no physical evidence against Mr. Hook."

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson told the jury that the abuse of the girl stopped when social workers removed her from the house.

He said the girl provided "damning evidence" when she took the witness stand Tuesday and identified Hook as the man who abused her.

"In a strong voice, she told you what this man did to her," Wilson told the jury.

He also noted pictures from an October 2003 examination of the girl that the prosecution presented as evidence to show the girl had injuries consistent with sexual abuse.

Over the course of the trial, the defense argued that the girl said her attacker had blue eyes. Cromer and Mahone hammered the fact to the jury that Hook's eyes are dark brown.

Wilson said the girl's identification of Hook in the courtroom as the man who abused her was stronger testimony than being able to remember the color of his eyes.

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