Man, 69, gets 18 years in abuse case


A 69-year-old Whiteford man who pleaded guilty in Harford Circuit Court to sexually abusing a girl over an 11-year period that ended in 1978 received a 55-year prison sentence with all but 18 years suspended.

Benjamin O. Stokes of the 1800 block of Susquehanna Hall Road told Judge Stephen M. Waldron before the sentencing Tuesday that he was "very sorry." But Terri Garland, an assistant state's attorney, argued that the defendant had expressed sorrow only once in a lengthy written statement.

Judge Waldron said he doubted if the defendant "truly appreciates what he has done" to the victim, now 31.

Ronald M. Stahl, a Bel Air lawyer representing Stokes, asked for leniency, citing his client's age. A lengthy sentence would, in effect, be a life sentence, Mr. Stahl said.

Judge Waldron said the victim's suffering was "continuing long after the defendant's self-gratifying actions stopped."

"The victim will never know the innocence [of childhood] that was stolen from her by the defendant," the judge said.

Stokes pleaded guilty to second-degree rape, second-degree sexual offense and child abuse, receiving consecutive 20-, 20- and 15-year sentences, respectively, for each count. The judge then suspended all but six, seven and five years, respectively.

Judge Waldron placed Stokes on five years' supervised probation upon his release from prison and ordered him to pay restitution of $1,645 to the victim. He also ordered that the defendant pay for the victim's future therapy costs and complete the county Health Department's Sex Offenders' Program. During his probation, Stokes may have no overnight contact with any child under 16 and must be supervised when in the company of any child under 16 during the day.

In other Circuit Court matters last week:

* Michael Andrew Harvey, 55, of the 3300 block of Kreitler Road in Forest Hill was indicted on vehicular manslaughter charges stemming from an August traffic accident in which Sheldon Myron Breece, 60, of Mill Green Road near Dublin was killed.

In the grand jury's nine-count indictment, the defendant also is accused of homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated, driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, reckless endangerment, two speeding violations, negligence and failing to keep to the right of center.

Mr. Harvey is free on $5,000 bond.

* Michael Duvall, 29, of the 2000 block of Durham Road in Fallston was sentenced Friday to five years in prison with all but 18 months suspended for beating up his ex-girlfriend.

Duvall entered an Alford plea in April, meaning he did not admit guilt, but recognized that it was in his best interests to do so.

Judge Cypert O. Whitfill accepted the plea on one count of battery. Other charges were not prosecuted.

In the statement of facts, prosecutors said Duvall had gone to the residence of Diana Lynn Wolf in the 1900 block of Castleton Road in Whiteford where, after being denied entry, he climbed through a window.

The defendant then broke the lock on the door to a bedroom where the woman had hidden and attacked her. After choking her and throwing her against a wall, he pulled a knife and threatened to kill her.

Duvall apologized in court and asked for leniency, but Judge Whitfill told him "it's really not OK" to beat up a girlfriend.

l "You very easily could have been here facing a murder charge," the judge said.

Duvall will be on three years' supervised probation upon his release from prison and must pay $688 in restitution to the victim.

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