A Baltimore County judge has sentenced a Parkville man to 15 years in prison for what she said was "probably the most severe case of child abuse" she had ever seen.
"I will long remember the sight of the victim limping into the courtroom" to tell how his stepfather smashed his head into a table, Judge Barbara Kerr Howe said Tuesday in handing down a sentence almost double the maximum suggested in the sentencing guidelines.
The beatings at the hands of John F. Pilachowski, 29, left the 5-year-old boy paralyzed in the left arm and possibly brain-damaged. The child also has a severe limp in his left leg. The abuse charge covered the boy's life from birth through Oct. 21, 1992, when he was taken to Franklin Square Hospital suffering from a near-fatal swelling of the brain that sent him into a seizure and left him unconscious for days.
During a three-day trial in September, defense attorney Peter Lewis tried to attribute the boy's injuries to clumsiness or playful rough-housing. Pilachowski, a small, slim man with neatly styled beard and hair, denied harming his stepson.
The boy "thought I was his real father," said Pilachowski, who was disabled in a fall while working. He also claimed that his wife participated in disciplining the boy. "I was brought up [that] when you do something, you should be corrected," he said.
Before being sentenced, Pilachowski told how he had been corrected when a boy. "I was knocked around by my stepfather, [and] my mother tied me to my bed to punish me . . . I haven't had a great childhood."
He also told Judge Howe that he didn't want any more jail time. His attorney, Mr. Lewis, asked that he receive minimal incarceration followed by probation and counseling.
Assistant State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger told Judge Howe that Pilachowski "needs to pick on somebody his own size. That's probably why he doesn't like jail very much."