Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Centreville man accused of child sex crimes arrested in Poland

Centreville man accused of child sex crimes arrested in Poland
-Officials working to extradite suspect to U.S.
by Gregg MacDonald | Staff Writer
An international manhunt for a Centreville man described by U.S. Marshals as one of the most wanted child sex offenders in the country ended last week in Poland.

Former Little League Baseball coach John E. Hamilton, 39, was arrested Aug. 25 by the Polish Border Guard as he attempted to cross into Poland from the Czech Republic. Hamilton is on the G8 Wanted Child Sex Offender list, making him one of the 10 most wanted child sex offenders in the U.S., according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Fairfax County Police, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of Justice are in the process of extraditing Hamilton to the U.S.

"It may take a while," said Billy Sorukas, chief of the International Investigations branch of the U.S. Marshals Service, on Monday. "There is a pretty substantial exchange of documents that has to occur."

Hamilton faces charges in Fairfax County stemming from at least five allegations of sexual misconduct between 1992 and 2008. Sorukas said authorities also might investigate to see if Hamilton is suspected of any criminal behavior overseas.

Sorukas said Hamilton was located Aug. 25 on a bus leaving the Czech Republic for Poland. He allegedly was traveling under an alias when Polish authorities in the border town of Gliwice detained him when he refused to show identification and provided evasive answers. Polish border authorities pulled him to the side and subsequently found his U.S. passport.

Hamilton was turned over to the provincial police, who contacted Interpol in Warsaw. Interpol in turn contacted the U.S. Marshals Service in Washington, D.C., to provide confirmation of his true identity. U.S. Marshals said they confirmed Hamilton's identify after sending Polish authorities copies of his fingerprints.

No attorney information for Hamilton was available.

"He is still in Poland and may attempt to contest the extradition to the U.S.," Sorukas said.

In June 2009, Fairfax County police charged Hamilton with aggravated sexual battery and three counts of indecent liberties with a child by a person in a supervisory relationship. He was indicted by a grand jury, released on bond and scheduled to enter a guilty plea in October 2009, but he failed to appear for his hearing.

U.S. Marshals said that after authorities suspected Hamilton had left the U.S., an Interpol notice was issued for Hamilton and sent to every country in Europe.

Hamilton originally became the subject of an investigation by Fairfax County police in February 2009, when a 24-year-old man came forward with sexual abuse allegations more than a decade after he had been coached by Hamilton.

Police said the man saw Hamilton with a preteen boy at a convenience store in early 2009 and thought it necessary to come forth with his own story. According to the man, who was 12 at the time of the alleged offense, Hamilton engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with him periodically, from March through July 1997. Police arrested Hamilton in May 2009.

Fairfax police said sodomy allegations were then made by two additional victims -- now also adults --who came forward. One is now 21 and the other is 30.

Additional charges also were filed by another alleged victim.

"They have just come forward, one by one," police spokesman Don Gotthardt said in January.

One incident allegedly occurred in the parking lot of Carl Sandburg Middle School in Alexandria. Another allegedly took place at Hamilton's home at that time, in the 6600 block of Wakefield Drive in the Belle View area. Hamilton was a Little League baseball coach for the Fort Hunt Youth Athletic Association at that time. Hamilton lived in the Northern Virginia area for decades and held several positions in the athletic community working with children.

According to the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Hamilton was a baseball coach at Bishop Ireton High School in 1999. The diocese said it was made aware of Hamilton's charges by police early last year.

"We notified the players from that year and we have put a notice in our bulletin," said Joelle Santolla, director of communications for the diocese, in January.

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