An article in some editions of yesterday's Metro section about motions in the child-abuse case of Sandra A. Craig in Howard County incorrectly characterized part of the testimony of a state prosecutor. Assistant State's Attorney Kate O'Donnell testified that she and a medical expert only discussed in general a child's statement about sexual abuse, but never discussed the child's allegations about a specific person who may have molested her. (Published 8/13/87)

ELLICOTT CITY, MD., AUG. 11 -- The 6-year-old girl whose allegations of physical and sexual abuse led to the conviction of former Howard County day care center operator Sandra A. Craig last spring also had accused other persons of molesting her, the child's therapist said today.

Mary Burke, a therapist at the Howard County Sexual Assault Center, testified at a Circuit Court hearing that the girl said some of her classmates and a teen-ager associated with the day care center also molested her. Burke's testimony came during a hearing before Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. on a defense motion to have Craig retried on the six charges on which she was convicted.

Craig also faces trial in October on charges that she abused 12 other children who attended her day care center.

Defense attorney William H. Murphy Jr., who was not representing Craig when she was convicted last April, said Burke's testimony cast doubt on the veracity of the 6-year-old's testimony and suggested that prosecutors had withheld from Craig information that could have been used to exonerate her.

The failure to identify other possible suspects, he said, was a violation of court rules governing investigations and could therefore be used as the grounds for a new trial. "The question is, would a reasonable jury have come up with a different verdict if {it} had been presented with these bits of information," Murphy said.

The information in question was contained in a series of notes Burke had taken during her therapy sessions with the girl that had previously been considered confidential. Last week, at Murphy's request, Kane ordered the therapist to provide both Murphy and the state with the information.

Taking the witness stand today, Burke read from notes she had taken during a session conducted last January in which the girl alleged that two other children at Craig's Country Pre-School had touched her chest, another two children at her elementary school had made her remove her clothes, and that a girl at her Sunday school had touched her "private parts."

In addition, Burke read from a memo she had written to an official with the local Department of Social Services last fall. In it she indicated that the girl had "implicated" a teen-ager associated with the day care center "as {the} perpetrator" during a physical examination by a medical expert on child abuse.

Murphy also attempted to cast doubt on Craig's guilt yesterday when he disclosed that the girl's mother had told Burke that Craig's son, Jamal, had abused her as well. Jamal Craig, 17, had been charged with molesting three children at his mother's day care center; one of the cases was dropped last month when the 7-year-old girl who was the subject of his first trial was declared incompetent to testify.

At Sandra Craig's trial last spring, the 6-year-old girl, testifying over closed-circuit television, said that Craig had touched her "private parts" with a stick and threatened her with death or the loss of her parent's love if she told anyone about it. Her account was supplemented by the testimony of a medical expert who said his examination of the girl revealed scarring and other physical evidence of abuse and the claims of a child psychologist who said that children rarely lie about unpleasant experiences.

Based on Burke's testimony, however, Murphy argued that someone else instead of Craig could have been responsible for the girl's ordeal, a possibility he said that state prosecutors, police officers, health department officals and social workers had failed to explore.

"The state's theory is that Sandra Craig did it," he said. "It's absolutely relevant to the defense asking whether there are other explanations for how these things happened to these kids."

Assistant State's Attorney Kate O'Donnell, whom Murphy called to the witness stand today, denied having any knowledge of other possible suspects that wasn't made available to Craig's attorney before the trial. Like Murphy, she said she had seen Burke's notes for the first time this week.

Although she acknowledged having sat in on about a dozen of the child's therapy sessions, O'Donnell said she had based the case on statements the girl had made directly to her and that those statements had never implicated anyone other than Craig.

"I have never specifically questioned {the girl} about matters related to a potential other offender," O'Donnell said. "I have given her the occasion to make statements about other bad people . . . and there weren't any."

O'Donnell added that although it was possible the medical expert had told her of the girl's statement regarding Craig's relative, she didn't recall receiving that information specifically and that it was not included in the doctor's report.

The hearing is scheduled to resume on Aug. 24.