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Man gets 50-year sentence on child sex abuse, pornography charges

Robert William Mulkern Jr. asked for mercy

July 30, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY — A man who spent two years on the run after being charged with child sex abuse and child pornography offenses asked for mercy Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court, but received the 50-year sentence sought by prosecutors.

Robert William Mulkern Jr., 46, formerly of Hagerstown and Williamsport, pleaded guilty in March to sex abuse of a minor, five counts of manufacturing child pornography and two counts of third-degree sex offenses.

The charges stem from incidents in 2009 involving a girl who was then 15 years old.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anybody,” Mulkern, 46, told Circuit Court Judge Donald E. Beachley before sentencing. “The girl needed someone to lead her in the right direction. She leaned on me and I went in the wrong direction. I’m also asking mercy from the court,” Mulkern told Beachley.

“We’re not exactly giving him a life sentence here,” Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Wilson said earlier in the hearing.

Mulkern will be eligible for parole in 12 1/2 years, he said.

“He not only had sex with her on several occasions, but he brought in a friend,” Wilson said, referring to Michael William Zimmer, who pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in 2010 and was sentenced to state prison.

Assistant Public Defender Loren Villa told Beachley that Mulkern had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and believed his relationship with the girl would one day lead to marriage.

“He realizes he took advantage of the situation, although that was not his intention,” Villa said.

In March 2009, the Allegany County girl was placed in a foster home in Hagerstown, where Mulkern rented a basement apartment. The girl and Mulkern soon became involved in a sexual relationship, which he recorded on a digital camera.

The girl later was returned to the custody of her mother, but she left and moved in with Mulkern at an address on Spielman Road near Williamsport, where the sexual relationship continued.

At the March plea hearing, Wilson cited photos taken July 13, Aug. 4, Aug. 23 and Sept. 18, 2009, depicting the girl in sexual poses or engaged in sexual acts with Mulkern at the Spielman Road address.

The Sept. 18 photos also showed the girl engaged in sex with Zimmer, Wilson said.

The Missing Persons Unit of the Maryland State Police found the girl at Mulkern’s home, but both told police the relationship was platonic. The girl, who was on juvenile probation, was placed in juvenile detention.

In 2010 the girl, who was pregnant by Mulkern, was interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center about her relationship with Mulkern, Wilson said.

Mulkern moved from the Spielman Road address and, for a time, lived in a room in a warehouse. It was there that the owner of the property found the digital camera, which was later turned over to police, according to court records.

Mulkern was initially charged with five counts of third-degree sex offense, three counts of perverted practices and one count of making child pornography, the court records said.

He was found living in a wooded area near Halfway and was committed to the Washington County Detention Center in March 2010, but posted $75,000 bond in April, the records said.

In June 2010, Mulkern was charged by warrant with 149 counts of manufacturing child pornography, nine counts of third-degree sex offense and one count of sex abuse of a minor, all related to conduct with the same girl.

In September 2010, Mulkern failed to show up in circuit court for trial on his initial charges.

While on the run, Mulkern was twice featured on “America’s Most Wanted” television show.

On Nov. 1, 2012, Mulkern was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Vermont Violent Offenders Task Force in Windsor, Vt. Shortly thereafter, he was returned to Maryland.

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