Judge unseals Hyde papers

THE BALTIMORE SUN

On the day before William H. Hyde was charged with sexually abusing an elementary school-age girl, the mother of the child confronted the former Carroll County schools superintendent. According to a transcript of the conversation, it began with her gentle questions about what he knew of her daughter's injuries and ended with shouted accusations.

A hidden tape recorder captured Hyde's reactions.

"Well, I don't doubt that it happened," he said at one point, confronted with evidence that the girl had been sexually abused, "but, my God, to think that I did it is incredible."

Within a day, however, amid nine hours of police questioning and a failed lie detector test, Hyde wrote to the girl apologizing for touching her genital area.

The letter and a 14-page police transcript of the mother's confrontation with Hyde are among 59 pages of documents unsealed yesterday by Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr., responding to a motion by The Sun.

Hyde, 62, who left the Carroll school system in August 2000 and has been living in a small town in Idaho, is scheduled to go on trial Monday on charges of raping and sexually abusing the girl last summer.

Much of what is in the unsealed documents was generally described during preliminary hearings in March. But the transcript and letters offer an unfiltered view of the conversations and investigation that led to Hyde's arrest.

The girl's mother began her confrontation with Hyde, taped by police with her permission Aug. 7, 2002, by asking about injuries discovered by her daughter's doctor.

"Is it like penetration-type stuff? ... Was he able to date as far as how recent the injury was?" Hyde asked, according to the police transcript. "How did they touch her?" he inquired of the alleged abuse.

The girl's mother responded, "Well, she just told me a little bit about that really, but the who was really kinda surprising. I don't think you'll believe who she said it was. ... She said you."

"Let me tell you, that's absolutely, unequivocally not the case," Hyde responded.

After the confrontation, Hyde drove to the offices of Carroll County's Child Abuse and Sexual Assault unit in search of Ruth Ann Arty, an investigator with whom he had worked when he was a school system official. However, Arty had not returned from the alleged victim's neighborhood, where she had been listening in on Hyde's conversation with the girl's mother.

When Hyde met Arty the next morning, he offered to take a lie detector test. After Hyde failed the examination -- the police report unsealed yesterday showed that his answers "indicated deception" -- investigators questioned him and urged him to write a letter to the girl.

In the letters that were unsealed, Hyde initially wrote, "I do not remember touching you ... , but I believe you are telling the truth to your mom and Mrs. Arty. ... If I touched you in a way that I should not have, I need to apologize."

Pressed to take responsibility and to help the child heal, Hyde drafted a second letter.

"I want to tell you that I am very sorry about the things that happened to you. ... I touched your vagina, and that is not right," Hyde wrote. He added, "I believe you are telling the truth about what happened to you."

During testimony in March, Hyde described the confrontation Aug. 7 and the interrogation a day later as a verbal and emotional "beating" that led to his written apology. He said he told them, "I'm giving this to you because you say this is what [the alleged victim] needs to hear."

The Sun is not disclosing many details in the unsealed documents to protect the alleged victim's identity.

Burns signed an order March 13 sealing the police reports, transcript, letters and other documents. An attorney for The Sun petitioned Burns that month to unseal documents introduced in open court.

At a brief hearing Tuesday, Mary R. Craig, an attorney representing The Sun, argued that the judge would need "an overriding reason that the public interest was served by maintaining the seal."

Sun staff writer Athima Chansanchai contributed to this article.

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