MARYLAND

Couple Pleads Not Guilty in Baby Case

A Bethesda couple charged with lying about the disappearance of their 5-month-old baby pleaded not guilty yesterday before a federal judge in Tampa who urged them to get separate lawyers.

"There are pitfalls and dangers in being represented by joint counsel," U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo warned Marlene and Steve Aisenberg, both 36. He tentatively scheduled trial for December.

The couple said their infant daughter, Sabrina, vanished from her crib Nov. 24, 1997, as the family slept in their home in a subdivision 15 miles east of Tampa.

In an indictment returned by a federal grand jury Sept. 9, the parents were charged with conspiracy and various counts of lying to investigators about Sabrina's disappearance. The Aisenbergs discussed the baby's death and what story to tell authorities, according to the indictment.

No body has been found, and officials said they do not know what happened to Sabrina or where she is. Her parents remain free on $25,000 bond each.

Teen Gets 7-Year Sentence for Rape

A Charles County Circuit Court judge sentenced a 17-year-old La Plata youth to seven years in prison yesterday for the second-degree rape last fall of a fellow student in a La Plata High School restroom.

Judge Christopher C. Henderson called Henry Aaron Downs, who was tried as an adult, a "sexual predator of female students in our public schools" before handing down a 20-year sentence and then suspending 13 years. Downs must serve 3 1/2 years before becoming eligible for parole. He also was sentenced to five years' probation.

According to testimony at his trial, Downs and the victim remained after school on Nov. 6, 1998--he to watch a football game, she for band practice. Downs was convicted of raping the victim, then, 16, after forcing her into a bathroom and locking the door. Downs has maintained that the girl consented to sex.

The sentence is "pretty much what we expected," said Dolores Downs, Henry's mother. "We're just going to file the appeal and go from there."

THE DISTRICT

Man Arrested in Sexual Assault of Teen

A man has been arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl at a park in Northeast Washington, U.S. Park Police said yesterday.

John Hicks, 22, of no fixed address, was charged Monday with first-degree child sexual abuse, Sgt. Robert MacLean said.

The girl was attacked at 11:30 p.m. Saturday at River Terrace Park, near Anacostia Avenue and East Capitol Street NE, police said. Officials said the man had offered her a ride hours earlier in the 3400 block of Benning Road NE.

14 AIDS Protesters Arrested

Fourteen AIDS activists were arrested yesterday when they lay down in the middle of lunchtime traffic in downtown Washington to call for the manufacture and sale of more affordable AIDS drugs for impoverished nations.

Chanting "Pills cost pennies. Greed costs lives," about 300 protesters and members of ACT UP, an AIDS activist group, marched from Farragut Square to the office of U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky at 17th and G streets NW.

Health officials in countries such as South Africa say they want to provide more access to AIDS treatments. But U.S. pharmaceutical companies see some laws in these countries, which allow cheaper imports or locally produced generic drugs, as an infringement on their patent protections.

Thomas Tripp, a spokesman for Barshefsky's office, said there are compromises that can be made to both protect "intellectual property and support sound public health policy."

VIRGINIA

Student Held After Alleged Threats

A senior at West Springfield High School has been arrested after he allegedly brought threatening signs into the school's halls, and police said yesterday that he was being held in the county's juvenile detention center.

A search warrant filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court yesterday said that the 17-year-old was first spotted approaching other students Sept. 20 with a sign that said, "I am going to punish you, that is my reward." Principal David Smith said the student was given a warning and a letter was sent home detailing the incident.

On Sept. 30, students and administrators found computer-generated signs posted on the school walls that threatened violence, authorities said. Police investigated and linked the student to the signs, and Fairfax school officials suspended him. Smith then addressed the students over the school intercom and mailed a letter to parents assuring them that the school was safe.

Fairfax police said they arrested the student the next day and charged him with a felony count of communicating threats of death or bodily injury and two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct. The student is not being identified because he is a juvenile.