Crossroads Today [Victoria, TX]
June 23, 2023
By Dennis Valera
The trial for a former, well-known, high school wrestling coach started Wednesday in a Baltimore County courtroom.
Neil Adleberg, 75, is accused of child sexual abuse dating back to 2013 and 2014 when he was assisting with the Mount Saint Joseph High School wrestling team. His alleged victim was 17 years old at the time.
Adleberg was the school’s head wrestling coach in the 1970s.
The trial comes more than a year after a grand jury indicted Adleberg on charges including second-degree rape and sexual abuse of a minor.
His indictment is the only one to come out of the Maryland Attorney General’s investigation into child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
In a report released in April, more than 150 alleged abusers were named for incidents spanning over 80 years.
Allegations about Adleberg came up during this investigation. He was not named in this report.
This is a bench trial, meaning Baltimore County Circuit Court judge Dennis Robinson will be the sole person to decide if Adleberg is guilty.
During the trial’s first day, no one was questioned about the alleged acts themselves. Instead, prosecutors focused on framing Adleberg as a “jealous, obsessive, abuser.”
The alleged grooming and abuse happened between December 2013 to June 2014.
In opening statements, prosecutors described the victim’s upbringing, calling it “chaotic and unstable.” They asserted Adleberg viewed him as a target and that he used his position to silence and control him.
The two met at a wrestling tournament while the victim was a senior in high school.
Adleberg was the former head wrestling coach at Mount Saint Joseph High School and a prominent fixture in the wrestling community.
To demonstrate Adleberg and the victim’s dynamic, prosecutors utilized testimony from the victim’s younger brother and a good friend.
Both described text messages with Adleberg about the victim and several were read aloud in court, including this one, “He needs to work. He parties every week and has no money.”
In other text messages, Adleberg allegedly called one of the victim’s girlfriends a “succubus” and described her as a bad influence.
Emails supplied to investigators from the AG’s office also were read aloud in court. In one of them, Adleberg commented on the victim’s phone use, saying, “You’re using the phone way too much.”
Testimony from that investigator, John Sheridan, revealed Adleberg paid for the victim’s phone at the time.
In cross-examinations, Adleberg’s attorney Joseph Murtha said these texts conveyed concern and that his client has a tendency to micromanage.
Throughout the trial’s first day, Murtha questioned the timeline, even going as far as to say the victim has flat-out lied about the accusations.
Murtha also said it was no secret Adleberg was involved in the victim’s life.
Describing his client as a very giving person, Murtha said the victim is part of a community of many men — yet only the victim has alleged abuse.
An expert witness from Center for Hope in Baltimore also took the stand to speak on sexual abuse and grooming behaviors.
Adleberg is expected to take the stand in his own defense at some point in this trial.