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Retired pediatrician from Silver Spring accused of sex offenses

A retired pediatrician from Silver Spring molested three relatives from 1964 to 1982 when they were as young as 6, according to Montgomery County court records made public Monday.

Leslie Boyd Altstatt, 83, who suffers from pulmonary disease and uses supplemental oxygen, was booked into jail on Friday before quickly posting bond. He faces 12 counts, including child abuse, sex offense and perverted sex practice.

From the mid-1960s until the early 1980s, Altstatt worked as a pediatrician and researcher at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District, authorities said. Detectives are concerned that there may be additional victims because Altstatt’s position gave him access to children, police said in a statement.

It was unclear whether Altstatt had an active medical practice after the mid-1980s. Online records with the Maryland Board of Physicians show that his license expired in 2010.

Two months ago, on Feb. 21, three relatives of Altstatt’s called Montgomery police, court papers say. A detective then spoke with the women.

Leslie Altstatt (Montgomery County Police)

One alleged that the abuse started in 1964, when she was 10, and continued for four years. Court records indicate that the woman later asked Altstatt about the abuse — prompting him to deny wrongdoing before admitting it.

A second woman said the abuse started in 1965 and continued for four years. She later confronted Altstatt several times, and “he apologized for his behavior,” court records state.

A third woman told detectives the abuse began in 1972, when she was 6. She said Altstatt abused her “hundreds of times” until she was 15, according to arrest records.

Richard Finci, an attorney representing Altstatt, declined to comment on the specific allegations.

But Finci questioned Montgomery authorities’ method of arrest, saying the police should have given more consideration to Altstatt’s failing health.

On Friday, detectives arrived at Altstatt’s home, where he is under hospice care. The man has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and requires a portable oxygen tank and breathing tubes, Finci said. The detectives arrested Altstatt and took him the county’s intake jail.

Finci said he arrived at the jail in time to see Altstatt, using his breathing equipment, standing before a court commissioner.

“You could see that he was confused during the commissioner’s hearing,” Finci said.

The attorney said that if police wanted to charge Altstatt, they could have handled it differently — through a summons or a method what would have allowed Altstatt to surrender himself.

“I was appalled to see my client wheezing during the hearing,” the attorney said.

The court commissioner set three bonds at $10,000 each, which Altstatt was able to post.

In response to Finci’s description of the arrest, the Montgomery police media office released a statement.

“Detectives applied for charges in this case and warrants were issued for Mr. Altstatt’s arrest. These allegations, which include numerous sex offenses and child abuse, were brought forth by family members and are very serious. Mr. Altstatt was arrested on three warrants based on those allegations. Mr. Altstatt will be heard in court, and if police acted improperly, the court can decide on that issue at that time.”

As for the investigation of Altstatt, police are asking anyone with information to call 240-773-5400.

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Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at the paper in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder.



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