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Evidence enough to arrest deputy on sex charge

Wednesday - 7/18/2012, 10:00am  ET

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office had reason to arrest a school resource officer accused of having sex with a student in 2011, a judge decided Tuesday.

Attorneys for Sam Allen Bowman, 47, of New Market, argued that deputies did not have enough information to create probable cause before Bowman was arrested, making the arrest illegal.

Attorneys Michelle Martz and Richard Bricken said the only evidence the sheriff’s office had before Bowman’s arrest was inconsistent statements from a “sexually active and unreliable 14-year-old girl with psychiatric difficulties great enough to require inpatient psychiatric care.”

The girl also has a history of making false accusations, which should have raised a red flag for investigators, Martz said.

Bowman’s attorneys also argued that his statements to investigators after his arrest should be suppressed because they were not made voluntarily. Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Donna Fenton, who is prosecuting the case to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, said the girl’s statement changed from an initial interview with Frederick County Child Protective Services to a later interview with a sheriff’s investigator. Those who have been sexually abused often take a while to open up to interviewers, Fenton said, and several aspects of the girl’s story, such as dates and times she was alone with Bowman, were consistent in both interviews.

Fenton called detectives who testified that GPS information from Bowman’s cruiser corroborated the girl’s account of days he took her home and that Bowman did not follow protocol by telling dispatch he was doing so.

Bowman also did not account for overtime on his time sheet, Sgt. Mark Landahl said.

Fenton said Bowman’s statement to investigators was voluntary because he signed a waiver of his Miranda and other rights and never asked to leave the interview room or to speak with a lawyer.

“There’s nothing improper whatsoever about any of this,” Circuit Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. said in denying the defense motion.

Bowman was a county sheriff’s deputy and a school resource officer at Walkersville High School, where he met the girl he is charged with abusing. According to court documents, Bowman had frequent contact with the girl during the school day, often eating lunch with her and driving her home after school.

He is accused of having sexual contact with the girl that began in his cruiser and moved to her bedroom after he took her home on March 9, 2011.

Bowman told investigators he went into the girl’s house because he was looking for evidence that she had been inhaling paint fumes, the documents state.

Bowman, who retired as a corporal from the Frederick Police Department, was suspended without pay from the sheriff’s office after the charges were filed. He has since been fired, according to Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.

Bowman was arrested in March 2011.

A Circuit Court trial on one charge of sex abuse of a minor and three charges of fourth-degree sex offense was originally scheduled for January 2012 but pushed back to this week.

The trial has again been delayed until November, according to court records.

Martz said she plans to file several more motions in the case. Dwyer set a deadline of Aug. 24 for motions from either side.