A 36-year-old Hampstead man, who said he was sexually abused as a child, was sentenced to 12 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty yesterday to molesting his 8-year-old stepdaughter and two of his nieces.
Saying he understood what he had done to his wife's daughter because he was molested by foster parents for more than a decade, the man stood before Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold and apologized.
"She's going through hell right now," the man said of his stepdaughter. "I know. I've been there."
The man pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse and one count of second-degree sexual offense. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped the remaining 19 counts of the indictment and recommended that the man serve no more than 12 years behind bars.
"Your honor, we do feel we mix compassion and justice with our plea offer," Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill told the judge. "The defendant himself had a terrible childhood. But lots of people with horrible childhoods do not molest children and perpetuate this cycle of child abuse."
Judge Arnold sentenced the man to 20 years in prison for the second-degree sex offense, then suspended all but 12 years. He imposed suspended five-year sentences for the child-abuse convictions and ordered the man to serve five years of supervised probation when he is released. Judge Arnold also ordered the man to avoid contact with anyone under 18.
According to the 22-count indictment returned by a Carroll grand jury in December, the man had sexual intercourse and sexually assaulted his stepdaughter between 1990 and 1991 at the family home. The man also fondled two of his nieces -- now both 11 -- for several years at his home.
The man -- whose name is being withheld to protect his victims' identities -- graphically described how he abused the girls, Ms. Hill said in a statement of facts read to the court. He told of at least 20 separate episodes of abuse.
"I just want to get this over so I can get into counseling. It hurts," according to the man's statement to investigators.
The man also told investigators that he sexually abused another niece when she was 2 at her Frederick home. The girl, who is now 13, did not remember any of the abuse, Ms. Hill said.
With his wife sitting behind him, the man stood and recalled his childhood. "When I was 6 years old, my mother gave me up, she just gave me up," he said. "She said she couldn't handle me anymore."
He told the judge that he had been sexually abused by various foster families until he was returned to his father's custody when he was 15.
His father died a year later, he said, and his mother threw him out of the house after she remarried.
In a letter to the court, his wife said the man was a good provider and that she hoped she could continue their life together.