A Prince George’s County candidate has resumed his campaign for the Maryland House of Delegates after a child sex-assault charge levied against him was dropped.
A Maryland grand jury declined to indict Republican Michael Hethmon, an attorney with the Washington-based Immigration Reform Law Institute, after he was accused of molesting an 8-year-old girl on his Upper Marlboro property in August.
“I feel like I’ve gotten my life back again,” said Hethmon, who suspended his campaign when the allegation surfaced.
The lawyer was arrested Labor Day after a caregiver told Prince George’s County police that Hethmon had sexually assaulted her daughter. Hethmon had hired the woman to care for his 88-year-old father, who lives with Hethmon on the Croom Road homestead.
According to charging documents, Hethmon was accused of reaching into the girl’s pants while they were both inside a barn on the property. The child’s mother was inside the home working when the girl told her mother what had allegedly happened.
At a hearing last week, the grand jury moved to dismiss the case, said John Erzen, a spokesman for Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks (D).
“I’m happy to be back and moving against tremendous odds,” said Hethmon, who has run unsuccessfully for elected office in Prince George’s twice before.
He is currently running against veteran lawmaker Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George’s) in the newly drawn 23rd District, which includes areas that Vallario, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, has not represented in the past.
In a letter to his supporters, Hethmon said he has challenged his opponent to a debate but is not optimistic Vallario will agree to it. Vallario campaign officials said Monday that they have not received an invitation from Hethmon for a debate.
The Republican is running on a tax-reform platform he hopes will appeal to the county’s independents and conservative Democrats.
Hethmon ran against Vallario in 2010 in a different district that included both Prince George’s and Calvert counties. He won the majority of votes in the more rural Calvert but was trounced by Vallario in Prince George’s County, according to the state Board of Elections.
“The suspension and horrific publicity has been devastating to what was always a modest effort to provide the citizens a choice on the ballot other than the incumbent machine candidates,” Hethmon said in the letter.