Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold yesterday gave probation to a Sykesville man who admitted sexually abusing his stepdaughters.
The suspended, two-year sentence, with five years of supervised probation, was imposed after the man's two stepdaughters pleaded with the judge to keep the defendant out of jail.
"The entire family is pleased that he didn't go to jail," defense attorney Ralph T. Uebersax said. "We're satisfied with the judge's decision."
In addition to probation, the man was ordered to get counseling and to pay for his stepdaughters' therapy.
Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill had requested a five-year prison term for the man, with all but three months in the Carroll County Detention Center suspended.
She said the defendant should still be held accountable for what he did.
She declined to comment on the sentence.
The defendant, who confessed in April that he had molested his stepdaughters seven years ago, pleaded guilty last week to child abuse.
Court records say that on several occasions in 1986 the man entered the room of one of his stepdaughters wearing nothing but an open bathrobe and held the child against his body.
He also visited the bedroom of another stepdaughter several times.
The abuse was discovered by the girls' mother, who found a diary in which the younger girl, now 16, had written, "I think I might be sexually abused."
The man admitted the behavior when his wife confronted him, and he apologized to the children, court records say.
The girls' mother joined her children in pleading with the court to spare the defendant from prison.