A Montgomery County man who fled in 2002 after being charged with impregnating his then-14-year-old stepdaughter was arrested recently in the District and extradited to Maryland yesterday, authorities said.
The case of Sidney Ray Richardson, 52, stirred a controversy in May 2002 that led to Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Durke G. Thompson receiving a public reprimand from a Maryland judicial disciplinary commission.
Montgomery Sheriff Raymond M. Kight (D) said county authorities took custody of Richardson from D.C. police yesterday. A D.C. police spokesman was unable to say exactly when Richardson had been arrested.
Richardson is charged in Montgomery with child abuse, third-degree sex offense and violation of probation. He also is charged with sex offense and failure to register as a sex offender, authorities said.
"We're very happy," said Detective Don Inman, who manages the county's sex offender registry. "This guy was somebody we were looking for for a long time."
Richardson pleaded guilty in March 1998 to child abuse and a third-degree sex offense for having sexual contact with his stepdaughter when she was 9 and 10 years old. He also pleaded guilty at that time to having sexual contact with a friend of his stepdaughter's.
In October 1999, after Richardson was released from prison, Thompson allowed him to visit periodically with his wife and stepdaughter over the objection of an assistant state's attorney. In January 2001, Thompson let Richardson move back into the home with his wife and stepdaughter. Richardson's wife requested the return, even though Richardson's therapist and probation officer did not endorse the move, according to court records.
Law enforcement officials and women's groups criticized Thompson for the ruling.
In November 2001, Richardson's stepdaughter gave birth. Six months later, Richardson's wife told authorities that she suspected her husband had fathered the child. An arrest warrant was issued, but authorities were unable to find Richardson.
"I'm not responsible for people committing crimes," Thompson told a Washington Post reporter in August 2002. "Okay, I made a judgment. . . . What do you want me to say, that I'm omniscient, and I know what's going to happen in every situation?"
The Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities reprimanded Thompson for those comments and said the interview violated the state's code of judicial conduct, which prohibits judges from commenting on pending cases to anyone but parties involved in the case.
Thompson said at a Dec. 12 public hearing before the commission that he believed his conversation with the Post reporter was not for publication.
Kight said yesterday that Richardson was being held without bond in the Montgomery County Detention Center.