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Abuse trial set to begin


Having lost last week his bid to have separate trials to face each of his accusers, a Carroll County man charged with molesting a dozen children -- two of them his own -- is expected to go on trial today before a county jury.

The trial is expected to last at least a week, as prosecutors present what they describe as overwhelming evidence of repeated sexual abuse of the man's children and his friends' children over the past five years.

Many, perhaps all, of the man's accusers are expected to take the witness stand during the week.

The man -- who, through his previous attorney, strenuously denied the accusations against him -- has said little about his defense strategy.

His new lawyer, Stephen R. Tully of Baltimore, declined to comment last week.

His previous attorney, Colleen S. Clemente of Westminster, has said that some of the children may have made up the stories because they dislike the man.

County child abuse and sexual assault investigators have called the man, whose name and address are being withheld to protect his children's privacy, one of the worst pedophiles they have seen in Carroll.

Investigators learned of the abuse allegations after one of the children, a 9-year-old girl, told her mother the man forced her to fondle him and engage in oral sex.

When investigators interviewed that girl, other names were mentioned, including those of the man's two children.

The man faces multiple counts of second-, third- and fourth-degree sexual offense, battery, perverted practice and child abuse.

If convicted on all counts, he could receive prison terms totaling more than 500 years.

The man has been held in the Carroll County Detention Center on $160,000 bail for almost a year.

Prosecutors plan to use statements the man made to state police and sex abuse investigators. Mr. Tully sought to have those statements suppressed.

Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold ruled last week that the statements could be used as evidence.

Also last week, Judge Arnold ruled that the charges involving all 12 accusers would be heard in front of the same jury.

Assistant State's Attorneys Kathi Hill and Christy McFaul said Friday that they were pleased with the rulings.

In their opening statements, they are expected to portray the man as a dangerous pedophile who should be found guilty and put behind bars.

The road to today's trial has been pocked with legal potholes.

In a surprise move in December, the defendant pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and asked to be evaluated by state psychologists.

In April,state psychologists deemed him competent to stand trial.

Between then and June 14, Ms. Clemente and prosecutors worked out an agreement that called for guilty pleas and more than 30 years in prison.

Then, on June 14, the man turned down the deal and hired Mr. Tully.

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