MARYLAND–A prominent 77-year-old Washington, D.C.-area real estate developer pleaded guilty in a secret juvenile court proceeding in early June to a misdemeanor child abuse charge, according to the Montgomery County state’s attorney.
The developer, E. Brooke Lee Jr., was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to the prosecutor’s office. According to accounts in The Washington Post, Lee gave the 14-year-old babysitter some wine and asked her to come to his bedroom in July 1994. There, he reportedly fondled and kissed her before she ran from the room and hid in a closet. She called her parents and hid until they arrived to take her home.
At the victim’s request, Lee was given the option of pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in juvenile court, a rarely used secret court proceeding which is meant to protect the privacy of the victim.
State’s Attorney Andrew Sonner said the proceeding is used in cases where a victim knows or is related to the offender. If the case had been filed in circuit court, the victim’s name would not have remained anonymous.
An out-of-county judge was assigned to hear the proceeding because the two Montgomery County juvenile court judges recused themselves.
Lee is scheduled to be sentenced for contributing to the delinquency of a minor in a closed hearing in early August. His punishment could be up to two years in prison and a $500 fine.
The victim’s parents also filed a civil suit in mid-July against the developer in Montgomery County Circuit Court alleging assault, battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount less than a week later.
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