A 32-year-old Westminster man was convicted yesterday of repeatedly raping his daughter when she was 5 and 6 years old.
The daughter, now 13, wept quietly as Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. convicted her father of second-degree rape and child abuse, and had him handcuffed and taken to the county jail. He will be sentenced by Judge Burns on Sept. 28.
Yesterday's convictions came after nearly two days of testimony before Judge Burns, who heard the case after the defendant decided against a jury trial.
As Judge Burns handed down his verdicts, the man's sister and mother began sobbing. When the judge revoked the man's pretrial bond and ordered him sent to the Carroll County Detention Center, both women screamed, and his mother begged, "Please, God! Oh please, God!"
As the women left the courtroom, the man's sister yelled at the child and the child's mother, and said their "lies" had sent her brother to jail.
Outside the courthouse, the defendant's mother hugged the victim, telling her she loved her. The aunt continued to yell at the child as she walked down the street.
"This is a just and fair verdict," said Assistant State's Attorney Eileen McInerney. In her closing arguments, the prosecutor blamed the man for taking the little girl's "childhood away from her."
James J. Fabian, the defendant's Baltimore attorney, declined to comment after the conviction.
The judge said that the case was one of accepting the daughter's word over her father's. "Who do I believe? That's what it all comes down to," he said. "As to what she said, the number of times he did it to her, her testimony is believable."
The man -- whose name is being withheld to protect his daughter's privacy -- was indicted by a Carroll grand jury in September 1992 after child and sexual abuse investigators taped a phone conversation between the daughter and her father in which he admitted molesting her. The girl had recounted the abuse in 1991 to a counselor, who alerted investigators.
The case is the first successful use in Carroll County of consensual telephone monitoring, in which investigators tape phone calls between accusers and suspects.
In that conversation -- which was introduced as evidence in the trial -- the girl called her father on July 14, 1992.
"Did you tell Mom or the police about anything?" the girl asked him.
"Uh-uh . . .," her father answered.
"Does Mom know that you [did] those things to me more than once?"
"Uh-uh. I'd rather not talk about it, you know."
"Are you sorry about it?"
"Are you sorry about those things?"
"Yeah. Never happen again."
The judge cited the taped conversation as proof of the man's guilt yesterday. He said the defendant's demeanor on the tape, along with the daughter's testimony, convinced him "beyond any doubt" that the man had sexual intercourse many times with his daughter in 1986 and 1987.
The convictions are the second for the man involving his daughter. In 1988, he pleaded guilty to assault, and prosecutors dropped child sexual abuse charges. The man served five years on probation.
In that case, the child's mother -- who was then married to the defendant -- saw him fondling the girl in June 1987. That incident led to the break-up of the marriage.