Child sex abuse convict denied home detention


Baltimore County jail inmates, following their own moral code, have made life hard for a former county recreation supervisor who pleaded guilty to fondling an 11-year-old boy who was on his soccer team.

So the former supervisor, Ronald Kiewe, 35, traded the relative freedom of a 60-day sentence in a work-release program for the virtual isolation of "protective custody," where he spends 23 hours a day alone in a six-by-eight-foot cell at the county detention center.

But Circuit Judge J. Norris Byrnes, who sentenced Kiewe on Nov. 29 after his guilty plea on a third-degree sex offense, refused to change Kiewe's sentence to home detention yesterday after a plea by the prisoner's lawyer.

The issue arose after Maj. John P. Connolly, deputy jail administrator and head of the work release program, wrote to Judge Byrnes detailing Kiewe's problems at the jail, where he had to report every day after finishing his shift at an outside job.

"He wasn't in there two days when he conveyed the fear that his life was in jeopardy," Major Connolly said. "There was a fair amount of news coverage [of the charges], and we knew that the inmates were aware of it. It's kind of ironic: people are in there for robberies, burglaries, but they have their -- I guess you could call it -- their moral code.

"You have to be very careful about the care and custody of people accused of [child sexual abuse] crimes," he said.

Judge Byrnes called a hearing, and Mark S. Cohen, Kiewe's attorney, asked that the sentence be changed to 60 days of home detention at the home of Kiewe's parents.

Mr. Cohen said inmates made threatening statements and gestures and circled Kiewe's bed in the bunkhouse at the work release center. Then Kiewe was confronted in the shower by five inmates who were fully dressed and had towels wrapped around their hands, he said.

Kiewe wasn't physically harmed, but asked for protective custody, saying, " 'I'd rather lose my job than lose my life,' " Mr. Cohen told the judge yesterday.

But Judge Byrnes said that Kiewe's sentence of two months, with the rest of his five-year term suspended, "is a fair sentence."

"Some may argue that it's too lenient, but no one would argue that it's too harsh," he said. If Kiewe can't work or must serve his time in isolation, the judge said, it was too bad.

"Mr. Cohen, he's in jail. And he's in jail because he committed a crime, and I'm punishing him for that," the judge said.

He noted that Kiewe originally was charged with 24 counts of child abuse during a two-year period, before he admitted his guilt in one case and sought help.

Kiewe, of the 100 block of Hammershire Road near Reisterstown, was ordered last month to continue a counseling program and avoid recreation programs or contact with anyone younger than 18. He had admitted fondling a boy whom he had invited to his home.

According to the prosecution's statement of facts, Kiewe at various times invited boys to his home, where he would place them on his lap, sleep with them in his bed and fondle them through their clothing.

The mother of one of the victims attended yesterday's hearing and said, "I'm glad that the judge upheld the sentencing. That's a small price to pay for what he's done to the five families. It's affected all our lives, and I'm glad to see it's affecting his right now."

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