A Carroll jury has convicted a county man of sexually molesting nine children -- including his son and daughter -- over a period of five years.
The panel deliberated almost four hours over two days before returning guilty verdicts yesterday on 33 of 35 child sexual abuse charges.
The man, wearing the same dark blue suit he has worn all week, stared at the jury forewoman as she read the verdicts. After the woman said "guilty" for the 20th time, the man stared toward the floor.
His parents -- who were seated in the row behind him during the trial -- stood silently and alternately looked at their son and the jury.
The man's name is being withheld to protect the privacy of his children and the other victims, many of whom are children of his friends.
The defendant went into the trial expecting to be found guilty, said Stephen R. Tully, his Baltimore attorney.
"The verdicts were not a surprise, based on the fact that we were forced to defend on 12 victims, not just one alleged victim," he said after his client was led away in handcuffs. "I'm legally certain that this case, on appeal, will be reversed."
The man will be held without bond at the Carroll County Detention Center until he is sentenced Oct. 4. The charges carry a maximum penalty of more than 500 years.
Through his attorney, the man declined to comment. His parents also declined to talk to a reporter.
When prosecutors arrested the man a year ago, they alleged that he had abused a dozen children -- two of them his -- for a period of years. When prosecutors rested their case Wednesday, Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. dropped charges involving two of the children. The jury acquitted the man of the two charges connected with a third child.
"The system worked," said Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill, one of two prosecutors in the case. "The verdicts were just and appropriate."
Carroll child abuse and sexual assault investigators have called the man one of the county's worst pedophiles in recent memory.
Yesterday, Ms. Hill compared the man with an ex-FBI agent who is serving 20 years in prison for sexually abusing his four daughters for 14 years, a former fire company president serving 38 years for molesting eight junior firefighters and a Taneytown farmer serving 50 years for sexually assaulting his daughters.
For 2 1/2 days, prosecutors presented the jury with testimony from 11 of the man's victims, physicians and sex abuse investigators. They played tapes of the man's statements to police, in which he suggested the children were pursuing him.
He did not take the stand, nor did Mr. Tully present any evidence on his behalf.
The victims and their parents were warned to keep quiet by Judge Beck before the jury came back with its verdicts. The children were laughing, smiling, dancing and jumping outside the courtroom after the man was led away by sheriff's deputies.