Man Who Touched Minor Sentenced To 18 Months Jail Time

By Guy Leonard, County Times

LEONARDTOWN, Md. (May 29, 2008)—Mark Andrew Panowicz, the 49-year-old man who was convicted in February of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl in his Mechanicsville home in 2006 was sentenced to a year-and-a-half of incarceration at the St. Mary’s County Detention Center last week.

Panowicz, who faces charges for violating his probation in a nearly identical case in Charles County, may also have to register as a sex offender if visiting District Court Judge Stephen Clagett so orders.

Judge Clagett gave Panowicz, who was authorized for work release and given three years of supervised probation upon his release, a lighter sentence than prosecutor Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel J. White had requested.

White pushed for a sentence of 10 years incarceration suspended down to five in prison, while Panowicz’s attorney James Papermeister said jail time would take his client out of rigorous treatment designed to suppress urges that caused him to commit the crime.

“Mr. Panowicz targets people who he thinks are weak,” White argued before Judge Clagett. “I think he’s a violent person who will hurt someone else if he’s left on the streets.”

Papermeister said his client had since admitted that he was responsible for the crime and had undergone rigorous testing designed for sex offenders.

“He’s not a predator, he’s not a bad man,” Papermeister said. “He’s come to terms with the fact that he has a problem.”

Panowics accepted responsibility for his crime during his sentencing hearing and apologized to his victim.

“What I did to [her] was wrong,” Panowicz said.

At his trial, Panowicz was also charged with eight other offenses, consisting of contributing to the delinquency of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors. But those charges were dropped during the trial.

At Panowicz’s trial back in February his accuser testified that he started to rub the small of her back when she was asleep in one of the rooms of his house. The victim testified that she and other teenagers, who had been invited there by Panowicz’s son, had been drinking heavily and became intoxicated. The victim had to be carried to one of the rooms after she had become sick.

The victim testified that she awoke after feeling someone touching her and saw Panowicz on the floor next to the bed when she turned around to see who was there.

At his court trial, Panowicz denied ever touching the girl inappropriately, but a recorded 911 emergency call from the victim’s cell phone after she ran out of his house, stunned, distressed and confused, convinced Judge Clagett of her truthfulness.

Judge Clagett reiterated his belief at Panowicz’s sentencing hearing. “I was absolutely convinced that you did what that young girl said you did,” Judge Clagett said.

Panowicz was immediately taken into custody by the sheriff’s office to begin his incarceration after his sentence was handed down.

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