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State drops charges in sexual abuse case

ELKTON - An assistant state's attorney dropped charges Wednesday against a Leeds man accused of molesting a girl for five years from when she was 4 years old.  Ernest Gottfred Olsen, 64, faced several sexual abuse charges in an indictment handed up by a grand jury in January. He was scheduled to stand trial Wednesday.  But prosecutors were unable to locate the accuser and were forced to drop all charges.

Olsen, of the 1500 block of Blue Ball Road, was charged with molesting the girl between Jan. 30, 1991, and Jan. 29, 1996, according to the indictment. The alleged sexual abuse began when the girl was 4 and ended just before her 10th birthday. 

Olsen declined to comment Wednesday, but defense lawyer Harry D. Barnes said he was innocent all along.   "My client has always entered pleas of not guilty," Barnes said after a brief circuit court hearing. "He's always maintained his innocence. He still maintains his innocence and he always will."

Sheriff's investigators say Olsen wrote a letter of apology to his accuser - now 18 - during a police interview.   Prosecutor Keith A. Baynes said he was "very disappointed" he had to drop the case.   "I'm disappointed because I think the man's guilty," Baynes said outside the courtroom, "and unfortunately, justice can't be done unless we go to trial."  Baynes said the accuser was subpoenaed in April, but police were unable to find her. He said police searched for her intensely Tuesday and Wednesday to no avail.  "We don't know where she is," Baynes said.

Olsen was a pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Milford, Del., according to police, but the charges weren't related to his work there. Barnes said Olsen had since resigned from the church. He declined to comment on Olsen's future plans.

According to a police report filed in the court record, Olsen told detectives there were questions about him and other women once at a Virginia church, and that the church eventually sent him a letter "telling him to leave the church and go home." Olsen also told investigators he was accused of inappropriately touching a girl he visited in the hospital while he was pastor at St. Andrew's Church in Newark, Del.  Olsen was never charged in those accusations.

Barnes said the police report's references to past allegations were "not true" and "hogwash." He said the allegations have "absolutely nothing to do with this case" and said they were all "emphatically untrue.""We had an excellent case, we could win this case," Barnes said, "but they (dropped) the case, so we move on."  Barnes added: "These (past) allegations are untrue and to throw that in the police report is a real cheap shot."

Source: Cecil Whig


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