- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

One of Montgomery County’s most notorious fugitives was captured earlier this month, when David Fuster, a local dentist who raped one of his patients, was apprehended on a beach in Mexico by Mexican authorities working in conjunction with U.S. marshals. On May 7, 2003, Fuster was convicted of sedating a 15-year-old girl and raping her on a couch in his basement office in Bethesda. Unfortunately, he was permitted to remain free pending sentencing. So, Fuster did what most rapists facing up to 55 years behind bars in would probably do: Leave town fast.

Virtually the entire legal and educational systems appear to have broken down in the Fuster case. The day after Fuster was convicted, his five children were withdrawn from Montgomery County Public Schools. (We hope Superintendent Jerry Weast has taken steps to prevent a repetition of this.) After police subsequently found packed boxes in Fuster’s home, a judge issued an arrest warrant. But by then it was too late.

Even in a “progressive” jurisdiction like Montgomery County, convicted rapists are usually jailed pending sentencing. So, why was Fuster’s case handled differently? The most important reason was that essential physical evidence was late in coming back from the crime lab, raising the possibility that Fuster’s trial would be delayed beyond the 180-day limit provided under Maryland’s speedy-trial rule. Worried its case would be jeopardized, the state’s attorney’s office cut a deal with Fuster’s attorneys that allowed him to remain free after his conviction — something that should not happen in cases involving such dangerous predators.

Fuster remains in custody in Mexico, and will probably remain there at least another six months while the Justice and State Departments try to get him extradited to the United States. We hope the Mexican legal system acts expeditiously so that Fuster can face justice in Rockville.

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