The Washington Post

Teenage Molester Freed After Treatment

- By Ernesto Londoño

A Bethesda 17-year-old who molested three children for whom he babysat was released yesterday after spending about nine months in a juvenile treatment facility.

Over the objections of the prosecutor, the parents of the molested children and several people who live in the teenager’s neighborho­od, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Algeo said the former babysitter could be released to his parents but would remain under strict supervisio­n by the Maryland Department of Juve- nile Services.

“I’m unhappy and disappoint­ed but not surprised,” Michelle Hunter, the mother of two of the molested boys, said after the hearing. “The neighborho­od is clearly concerned.”

The babysitter, who is not being identified because he was charged as a juvenile, pleaded guilty last year in two cases. The initial one involved two brothers, 5 and 7 years old. The second case involved a 5year-old boy who also lived in the Locust Hill Estates area.

The teenager apologized yesterday to the parents of the children and said he has learned from his mistakes.

The juvenile system in Maryland has a rehabilita­tive, rather than punitive, focus. Juvenile offenders are not sentenced to a fixed period of time behind bars but are assigned to a facility that offers therapy and schooling.

The teenager completed the program at the Woodbourne Center, a Baltimore facility that specialize­s in treating juvenile sex offenders. The Department of Juvenile Services recommende­d that he be released, but Assistant State’s Attorney Sharon Diamant asked the judge to assign him to a new treatment center.

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