exposing the dark side of adoption
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Man Gets 15-Year Term For Abusing Daughter [oldest daughter]


Author: Victoria Churchville, Washington Post Staff Writer

A 51-year-old former Marine and retired computer operator, his briefcase already packed for prison, was sentenced yesterday in Montgomery County Circuit Court to 15 years for sexually abusing his middle daughter, now 25 and a teacher in Gaithersburg.

Brushing aside warnings from the man and his attorney that a long prison term could spell death for the man, who has suffered two heart attacks, Judge Leonard Ruben levied a maximum sentence, then suspended the last five years on the condition that the man receive psychiatric treatment.

The man also has been charged by two other natural daughters, aged 21 and 26, and by an adopted 15-year-old Costa Rican girl, with sexually molesting them over a period that spanned 12 years. The man's name is not being used in this story because it is shared by the three daughters whose cases are pending.

Before the sentence was imposed, the man, dressed in the same three-piece navy blue suit and striped tie that he wore throughout his eight-day trial last month, stood to ask for leniency.

"I've been an honorable man all my life, I've taken care of my family. In every respect, I've taken care of them," he told the judge. "Jail is only going to kill me. There's no reason to kill me, I don't think."

Ruben shot back: "You indicated you've done everything for your family. I suggest you have become the vehicle by which the family has been destroyed." He said the luxuries the man provided the family, including a horse farm in Pennsylvania, a beach cottage in Ocean City and a family home and farm in upper Montgomery, were "tainted" by the man's sex crimes.

"There's a lot of literature on sexual abuse and you fit the exact picture emerging, a so-called good family man, a so-called good provider," Ruben said before he imposed the sentence.

Thomas L. Heeney, the man's defense attorney, said yesterday he will appeal the conviction.

During the sentencing, prosecutor Barry Hamilton spoke of a "continuing, unrelenting, enduring, brutal pattern of sexual abuse," that the victim "was put through day in, day out over a period of years."

Hamilton brushed aside Heeney's request for a limited term, citing the need for deterring a crime that is receiving increasing attention nationwide. "Those other men and women who are out there abusing their children, especially sexually where it can be concealed more easily than physical abuse . . . may be deterred," he said. "They can be people who present themselves just as the man does, as hard-working good providers.

"These are people that can be reached by seeing that someone in the same position was given an appropriate amount of justice."

After the sentencing, Heeney said his client is pleading innocent in the remaining three cases, arguing that a heart condition rendered him unable to have sex with his wife, much less abuse his daughters.

The man was arrested Jan. 4 as a result of an investigation begun after his three natural daughters and their mother went to police last November, according to court documents.

Those documents show that the man's 26-year-old daughter alleges that he raped her and performed unnatural sexual acts between 1971 and 1973. The 21-year-old daughter alleges in the documents that her father abused her sexually between 1975 and 1978. Her case is scheduled for trial Dec. 17. The 15- year-old adopted daughter, whose unhappiness apparently triggered initial visits to police, has alleged that her father molested her as recently as last December, according to court records. That case is scheduled for trial Nov. 5.

1984 Sep 26