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Hagerstown man sentenced in child porn case

Joseph Charles Peer was sentenced to 85 years in prison for sexually molesting preteen girl

December 11, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Joseph Charles Peer
Washington County Detention Center

A man who pleaded guilty to sexually molesting and making pornographic videos and images of a preteen girl over a period of years was sentenced this week in Washington County Circuit Court to 85 years in prison, court records said.

Joseph Charles Peer, 57, of Hagerstown, pleaded guilty in July to four counts of sexual abuse of a minor, three counts of producing child pornography and one count of sex abuse of a minor as a continuing course of conduct. In exchange for the plea, more than 50 related charges were dismissed.

The abuse came to light in 2011 when a co-worker of Peer’s was shown a pornographic image of a preteen girl while at Peer’s home, Washington County Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Wilson said at Monday’s sentencing hearing. The co-worker later saw Peer in the company of a girl he believed was the same person as in the image and later reported it to Hagerstown police, he said.

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Wilson noted in court that a few more months went by before the co-worker informed Hagerstown police.

The girl was later interviewed at the Safe Place Child Advocacy Center and told investigators the abuse had been going on since 2006, according to the charging documents.

“This was a period of approximately five years during which Mr. Peer molested and photographed the victim,” Wilson told Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr.

“We don’t know how much damage has been done to the child,” Wilson said. The abuse cannot “be erased from her memory,” he said.

The girl’s mother was given an opportunity to address the court at sentencing, but indicated she could not and wept through much of the hearing.

A search of Peer’s home resulted in the seizure of DVDs and computer storage equipment that was forensically examined for evidence of child pornography by an officer of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Wilson told Long in July. The document produced by that examination was 2 1/2 inches thick, he said in July.

“Mr. Peer ... has horrible remorse for what he has done,” defense attorney Susan Lochbaum said.

“The only thing I can add is how sorry I am for what I have done,” Peer said. “I can’t really tell you why it happened.”

“Mr. Peer, your actions were wrong on so many levels it’s really hard to know where to begin,” Long said.

The judge noted Peer’s original statements to police in which he tried to lay some of the blame for his actions on the victim.

“It rings pretty hollow to me,” Long said.

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