A pedophile who sexually molested two Baltimore County brothers a decade ago pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to sending a videotape containing child pornography to one of them in May 1995. Over the next 15 months, both brothers committed suicide.
Peter Dudley Albertsen II, 35, pleaded guilty to trafficking child pornography for sending the explicit videotape to Justin Wilke, 19, in May 1995. Wilke was the first to take his life, followed by his older brother, Matthew Wilke, 22.
Wearing a brown sweater and gray slacks, his hair tied in a pony tail, Albertsen listened carefully as U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson explained the case against him. Close to 50 friends and family members of the brothers crowded the third-floor courtroom, many of whom hold Albertsen responsible for the deaths of Matthew and Justin Wilke.
"If you enter this plea, you give up your right to a trial," Nickerson told him.
"Yes, sir, I understand that," Albertsen said.
Nickerson warned Albertsen that prosecutors plan to seek the ++ toughest possible penalty under federal law, and he pointed out that there is no chance of parole if he receives a prison term.
Nickerson asked Albertsen if he had any questions.
"No sir," Albertsen said. "I believe everything was made clear."
Deputy U.S. marshals then escorted Albertsen back to jail, where he has been held without bail since his arrest by customs and postal inspections agents late last year. He could be sentenced to a 10-year term and fined $250,000 for sending the video, which contained explicit scenes of sex between teens, according to court records.
Prosecutors and Albertsen's defense attorney declined to discuss the case yesterday. But in court records, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew C. White wrote that the tape represents "extreme psychological injury" and Albertsen deserves a sentence that exceeds the 10-year maximum.
Light sentence sought
Albertsen's defense attorney, assistant U.S. public defender Shirley M. Watts, wrote in court papers that prosecutors should not be permitted to link the video to the sexual abuse that took place between her client and the Wilke brothers during the 1980s.
She told Nickerson that because Albertsen accepted responsibility for sending the tape and he has pleaded guilty to the crime, he should receive a light sentence. "Probation with home detention and / or community confinement," Watts suggested to the judge in a letter March 7.
Albertsen is scheduled to be sentenced July 11.
The case dates to 1985, when Matthew and Justin Wilke met Albertsen at a summer camp in Monkton, where Albertsen worked as the pool director. Albertsen, who holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and psychology from Towson State University, befriended the boys and their parents. At the time, Justin was 9, Matthew 11.
According to court records, the boys, who were living in Upperco, were permitted to spend weekends at Albertsen's row house in Hampden, where he began to abuse Justin, when he was 11, and Matthew, when he was 13. Some of the abuse took place while Albertsen worked as a substitute teacher for the Baltimore school system, records show.
Albertsen was eventually confronted with the abuse, and he ZTC pleaded guilty to sex charges in Baltimore Circuit Court in 1990. He received a three-year suspended jail term and was ordered to undergo psychological treatment and stay away from the brothers and children, records show.
But according to court records in the video case, Albertsen continued to pursue Justin, writing him letters, leaving notes on his car and showing up at his favorite hangouts and his graduation from Loyola High School in 1994.
Package from Germany
In 1995, while Albertsen was in Germany on a student visa, he mailed the video containing child pornography to Justin Wilke, along with a birthday card and two letters totaling 25 pages.
In one letter, dated May 13, 1995, Albertsen said he realized the video would probably be considered illegal in the United States.
"I cannot vouch for its legality by American standards," he wrote, according to court records.
At the time, Justin Wilke was a promising painter attending the Maryland Institute, College of Art. In his spare time, he volunteered at a home for abused children, where he painted a series of scenes exploring the terror, guilt and devastation wrought by sexual abuse.
A deep depression
In the months following the receipt of the video and the letter, Justin Wilke slipped into deep depression. On Feb. 8, 1996, he committed suicide, dying of carbon monoxide poisoning at the wheel of his car in a Cockeysville parking lot.
He left a short suicide note.
"I hate you, Pete," he wrote, court records show.
Matthew Wilke was crushed by his brother's death. He managed to get away from Albertsen in the early days of the sexual abuse, according to court records, after he wrote a letter to Albertsen telling him to stay away.
"Matthew, however, felt helpless and frustrated at his inability to protect his younger brother from Albertsen," White, the prosecutor, wrote in a March 11 letter to the judge.
In August 1996, Matthew Wilke drove his car into a cornfield near his family's Baltimore County home, connected a hose to the tailpipe, slipped it into the car and started the engine.
A farmer found Matthew Wilke's body on Aug. 15.
Pub Date: 3/22/97