Nobel Laureate Gets 18-Month Term for Abuse

Date: 1997-04-30

Dr. Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, a Nobel laureate, was sentenced today to one and a half years in prison for abusing a 15-year-old boy he brought back from a research trip to Micronesia in 1987.

Dr. Gajdusek, 73, pleaded guilty in February to two counts of child abuse for molesting the boy. Under a plea agreement reached with Frederick County prosecutors, Judge Jim Dwyer of Circuit Court suspended all but 18 months of a 30-year sentence.

Dr. Gajdusek, who retired in February from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, where he had been chief of the Laboratory for Central Nervous System Studies, was to begin immediately serving his sentence in the county detention center.

He won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1976 for his work on ''slow viruses,'' which lie dormant before attacking the body. The infectious agents include one that has been implicated in mad-cow disease.

Prosecutors said Dr. Gajdusek brought home 56 children, mostly boys, from research trips to islands in the Pacific, beginning in the 1960's. Prosecutors contended that Dr. Gajdusek molested four other boys, but no charges were filed. Three have returned to Micronesia, and the fourth is in prison.

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