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Arrest sparks fear in Mt. Airy Worried parents call after man is accused of child sex abuse; Meeting set for tonight


In response to calls from worried parents, officials have called a meeting tonight to answer questions about the recent arrest of a Mount Airy man accused of sexually abusing three children after luring them with lollipops.

"For at least three days, I have not been able to get off the phone," said Sgt. Ronald S. Mosco, supervisor of the Child Abuse and Sexual Assault unit of the Maryland State Police and the Carroll County state's attorney's office.

Mosco said he has fielded at least 100 calls from parents.

"Some are concerned that their children may be victims," he said, adding that the investigation is "absolutely" continuing.

The number of calls and the misinformation being circulated by word of mouth prompted the meeting, Mosco said.

"That's why we saw fit to do this. We don't usually," he said. "Because of the fact that it seems to have mushroomed and gotten a little bit out of control, I think this is the best way to handle the damage that's being done -- the damage that's being done from misinformation."

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Mount Airy Elementary School cafeteria, with police, prosecutors and school officials attending.

Vice Principal Joseph Dorsey said the school has not received calls from parents, but school officials want to be available to answer questions.

"We want to make it known up front that it's not going to be adversarial," said Mosco. "It is for us to make the facts known and to ask and answer questions."

Robert E. Tibbits, 63, has been charged, not convicted, in the three cases, Mosco said -- one of the points he intends to #F emphasize. Tibbits is being held at the Carroll County Detention Center in lieu of $50,000 bond.

He was arrested Nov. 25 on charges that he sexually assaulted two neighborhood girls, 11 and 7 years old, after allegedly luring them into his home with lollipops. Last week, he was arrested again and charged with second-degree rape and other offenses involving another 7-year-old girl.

The alleged incidents occurred between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, according to charging documents. The Sun does not name alleged victims of sexual assaults.

Children should not attend the meeting, Mosco said.

"You could run the risk of getting a false disclosure," he said. "It would be unfair to him: He's not convicted, he's been accused."

The investigation began Oct. 16 with a report to state police in Westminster of suspicious activity. The complaint was referred to Mosco's child abuse unit.

Mosco said the investigator will not attend the meeting, explaining: "I don't want him subjected to questions [that might] jeopardize the case."

Tibbits was convicted of sexual offenses involving young girls in 1980 and sentenced to 18 months in jail, according to the state's attorney's office.

Some callers demanded to know why they weren't notified that a sex offender had moved in, he said.

"Well, he's not a registered sex offender," Mosco said. "He never was on any list."

In response to the calls, Mosco said, his office has provided pamphlets to some parents about sexual abuse of children.

"Some children will show symptoms; some show none -- and some show up 10 years later," he said. "But these are guidelines, only guidelines."

Pub Date: 12/15/98

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