Jury convicts genetic pioneer of molestation

Former Bethesda man convicted in Los Angeles after similar case in Montgomery County had been dismissed

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Los Angeles jury convicted internationally renowned scientist William French Anderson last week of four counts of continuous sexual abuse of a minor.

In February 2005, W. French Anderson, 69, dubbed the ‘‘father of genetic therapy,” had been charged in Montgomery County with molesting a Silver Spring boy for three years in the 1980s.

Anderson spent more than 25 years at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda before moving to a university post in California in 1992.

The Montgomery County case was dismissed Sept. 7 in deference to California’s prosecution.

A key piece of evidence for the Maryland prosecution, a 2004 taped phone conversation between Anderson and his now-adult Maryland victim, made frequent references to the charges against Anderson in California, State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said.

Under Maryland rules, it is not permissible to introduce evidence of other sexual abuse cases against the defendant, Gansler said. Under California’s rules, such evidence is permissible and the Maryland victim could be called as a witness in the California trial.

The Montgomery County victim came forward last year after reading about the charges against Anderson in California. The victim, a martial arts student of Anderson in the 1980s, said the molestation began when he was 12.

Anderson faces up to 22 years in prison in California.