A District man accused of sexually abusing his 4-year-old daughter pleaded guilty yesterday to the lesser charge of battery in Montgomery County Circuit Court, thus sparing the girl the trauma of a courtroom confrontation.
Responding to questions by Judge James S. McAuliffe Jr. at a last-minute plea hearing, the man, whose name is not being used in this story because it is shared with his daughter, admitted under oath that he had fondled the girl's genitals.
On Tuesday McAuliffe had denied a prosecutor's request that the child's testimony be televised from outside the courtroom, saying that would violate the man's constitutional right to a "face-to-face meeting at trial" between the accused and his accuser.
Under the plea agreement, McAuliffe sentenced the man, who lived in Silver Spring last March at the time the abuse allegedly occurred, to five years' supervised probation, including a restriction on visiting his daughter and a requirement that he see a psychiatrist one hour a week for a year.
"It was a difficult case because of the age of the victim and the resolution was in the best interest of all parties," said Montgomery State's Attorney Andrew L. Sonner.
Prosecutor Dwight C. Price had sought permission to televise the girl's testimony to soften the trauma of courtroom testimony.
Along with crayon drawings and anatomically correct dolls, videotaping or televising children's testimony is a technique social workers and prosecutors are seeking to use across the country to make children more comfortable in telling their stories.