(7/27) Frederick County State’s Attorney Scott Rolle dropped the
second-degree assault charge against Thurmont Commissioner Ron Terpko on
Rolle said he believed that Terpko slapped his son with an open fist, rather
than struck him with a closed fist, as reported by the Frederick County
‘‘I looked at the current state of Maryland law, which says that a parent
has the right to use corporal punishment so long as it’s not unreasonable or
excessive under the circumstances," Rolle said Wednesday. ‘‘That means that if
the parent did not intend to injure the child, then that’s the law."
Attorney Norman Usiak issued a written statement on Wednesday on behalf of
‘‘I wish to express an appreciation for the disciplined and judicious
decision by the Office of the State’s Attorney to end, sooner rather than
later, something which weighed very heavily upon Mr. Terpko, his family, and
his reputation," Usiak wrote.
‘‘The termination of its prosecution of Ron Terpko brings to a rightful
conclusion. ... I sincerely hope that this unfortunate event will never be held
Terpko was arrested on June 14 for hitting his 13-year-old son in the face
while the boy was handcuffed. The boy and two others had been arrested for
vandalism just prior to the incident. They had destroyed at least 13 mailboxes
on Graceham, Old Kiln and Old Frederick roads, according to the Sheriff’s
‘‘Ron Terpko was called out around 3:30 in the morning," Rolle said. ‘‘He
was told by the police that his son had taken his car out, and allegedly
smashed some mailboxes with a baseball bat. Again, he had a conversation with
his son. He slapped his son."
Rolle said the prosecution was unlikely to win a criminal case due to
reasonable doubt. A Thurmont Police Department officer had reported that Terpko
slapped his son, whereas a Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Deputy reported
that Terpko hit his son with a closed fist.
‘‘The Thurmont police officer who was right next to him wrote that in his
reports," Rolle said. ‘‘The deputy who thought he saw a closed fist was much
farther away. That’s reasonable doubt. You’re never going to win your criminal
case with those conflicting statements."
Rolle said that photographs taken by the defense a day or two later showed
‘‘no sign of injury whatsoever."
‘‘I would think if someone used a closed fist, there would be swelling, a
bruise, a black eye, a fat lip, some injury," Rolle said. ‘‘There was some very
slight redness around his lower eye, but that looks like crying to me, and the
report said the kid was profusely crying. There is redness, but it’s not an
Rolle stated that his function as state’s attorney was to determine whether
a crime was committed, not to determine proper parenting skills. At the same
time, Rolle was mindful of precedent.
‘‘If the child had been five years old and spilled milk at a birthday party,
it might have been different," Rolle said. ‘‘This was not an easy decision."