The former FBI agent came to Carroll Circuit Court yesterday morning and described the 22 years of distinguished service he gave to his country.
But in the afternoon, Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold ordered the 46-year-old polygraph expert -- and convicted child sexual abuser -- to give the next 20 years of his life to the Division of Correction.
"You've had an impressive career, and, except for the matter that brought you here today, your future would have been bright, indeed," Judge Arnold told the man.
The former agent stood convicted of charges tied to more than 14 years of sexually abusing his four daughters. While he was dazzling his superiors at the FBI with his law enforcement acumen, he was leading a secret life at home, pursuing sex with his daughters, testimony revealed.
"For years, I pathologically rationalized that I could seek love and sexual gratification from the most inappropriate of targets, my own daughters," the man said, his voice choked with tears. "I never meant to harm my daughters; I never meant to hurt them."
The man, whose name is being withheld to protect his victims, presented more than a half-dozen witnesses at the daylong hearing, including his psychological therapist and an FBI agent who worked with him.
In a plea bargain with prosecutors, the man pleaded guilty July 9 to two counts each of child abuse and second-degree sexual offense. Prosecutors dropped the remaining 18 counts of the indictment and agreed to a sentence of 35 years, with all but 20 suspended.
Yesterday, Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill told Judge Arnold that the deal was a good one for the defendant.
"His kids are never getting out of their jail," Ms. Hill said.
The defendant sought a work-release sentence, citing a desire to compensate his family, which he says is now destitute. His attorney, John E. Harris Sr. of Baltimore, also sought to keep him out of jail because of his former profession and the crimes he committed.
"Any significant amount of incarceration could be the equivalent of a death sentence," Mr. Harris said. "There are plenty of people inside the prison who would do whatever is necessary to claim the very life of my client."
Judge Arnold rejected that argument, saying that "there must be retribution" from society for the man's behavior and that "overshadows any concern" he has for the defendant's physical or mental safety.
"You've psychologically destroyed the very lives you brought into the world," the judge said. "Had you stabbed them with a dagger, they would have healed by now."
Ms. Hill read from letters written by the man's daughters. "We have never really had a father. The person who was in the father position wasn't a father to us; he just used us as his play toys," one letter said.
The man will seek protective custody in the state prison system, his attorney said.