Ex-Marine is convicted of 1 count in sex with girl HOWARD COUNTY


A former Marine sergeant was acquitted on all but one charge in Howard Circuit Court yesterday in an alleged attack of a 17-year-old Columbia girl last summer.

James Alexander Page Jr., 27, of Greenbelt, was found guilty of perverted sexual practices for having oral sex with the victim. A jury of eight men and four women deliberated for nearly four hours.

The jury found Page not guilty of 22 other charges, including five counts of first-degree rape and first-degree sexual offenses -- charges that each carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Page, whose military enlistment expired since his arrest in August, will be sentenced on May 18. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Page is scheduled to stand trial on charges of solicitation to commit murder and obstruction of justice on May 10.

Page allegedly offered to pay $3,000 to an undercover state police trooper to kill the alleged rape victim to prevent her from testifying against him.

Prosecutors were not permitted to use those allegations against Page at his trial on the rape charges.

Assistant Public Defender Louis Willemin, who represented Page, conceded during his closing argument that his client is guilty of the perverted sexual practices charge.

Page told police investigators after his arrest that he had oral sex with the girl, but he never admitted to having intercourse with her, according to testimony during the four-day trial.

Mr. Willemin argued that the girl made up the rape allegations to explain why she missed her 1 a.m. curfew by at least four hours and had a large mark on her neck.

The defense attorney added that medical reports were not consistent with the victim's story. He noted that doctors found no bruises where the victim said she was struck and choked.

"It's my argument that none of this happened," Mr. Willemin told the jurors. "There's a zillion reasons for reasonable doubt in this case."

The girl, a student at Oakland Mills High School, testified that she met Page at a party at a friend's house in Columbia on Aug. 18. She admitted that she drank about two glasses of vodka at another friend's house before going to the party.

As her curfew approached, the girl said, Page offered to drive her home in the early morning hours of Aug. 19. Instead, the couple went to an industrial park off Broken Land and Snowden River parkways, where the girl said the defendant forced her to have intercourse and perform sex acts with him.

The victim contended that Page repeatedly struck her and threatened to kill her and her family if she did not comply with his demands.

Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Murtha described Page as an "almost maniacal criminal" who intended to get one of the girls at the party to have sex with him.

Mr. Murtha noted that three other teen-age girls testified that Page either touched them or asked them questions about sex while at the party.

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