Husband's conviction jeapordizes Del. Cadden's career


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Posted by Phil Lee (216.250.238.103) on August 23, 2001 at 18:11:

Husband's conviction jeapordizes pol's career
Gerald Mizejewski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/23/2001, C1

Joan Cadden has spent much of the past two decades in the public eye, first as an Anne Arundel County school board member, then as a Democrat representing District 31 in the Maryland House of Delegates.

But a part of the veteran politician's life she would have preferred to keep private -- a sex-abuse scandal involving her husband now threatens to derail her political future.
A judge sentenced Mrs. Cadden's husband to five years' probation this month for sexually abusing a young relative.

Mrs. Cadden, 60, has been criticized for not reporting the abuse after the girl first came forward in 1997 and, instead, agreeing within the family to work out the problem and spare her career.

"She is popular, even today," said supporter and former state Sen. Al Lipin, a Democrat. "She's worked for her community consistently and has had good personal contact with her constituency I don't blame her for any of these incidents."

"I feel sorry for her," said a longtime community leader who asked not to be identified.

"For a long time, there's going to be this cloud associated with her persona," a Democratic delegate said.

Another political observer said there is anger in the community but probably not enough to prevent her from keeping her seat.

Mrs. Cadden declined to answer questions about her political future. However, through a spokesman, she has said she plans to run for re-election next year.

That decision has not resonated well with everyone. Robert Costa, chairman of the Anne Arundel Republican Central Committee, has called for her resignation, as has an organization called Prevent Child Abuse Maryland.

"My first concern would be my marriage, my family. I would forget about politics and probably step down," said a fellow Democratic state delegate.

Michael Steele, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, said the issue should not become a "political football." However, Mrs. Cadden and the voters need to take a hard look at whether she is fit to serve as lawmaker, he said.

"I think that she should seriously reconsider her position," Mr. Steele said. "If Cadden was a Republican, my comments would be no less sharp."

Earlier this month, Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. sentenced Raymond A. Cadden Sr., 60, to five years' probation.

Cadden was convicted of one count of child abuse and two third-degree sex offenses on June 19 and could have received more than 15 years in prison.

The girl's father said she first told him about the abuse four years ago, and that the family decided to seek counseling for the girl and Cadden. Cadden maintained his innocence and said he did so only to keep peace in the family.

"I did it for the family," Cadden told the judge. "Joan is a politician, and I was trying to protect her."

The judge also ordered him to complete a sex-offender treatment program, register as a sex offender and pay for the victim's counseling.

The charges were reported to police last year after the girl -- now 18 -- told a pediatrician, who was treating her for anorexia.

Talk of Mrs. Cadden's future has become taboo in her north Anne Arundel district.

Mrs. Cadden, a cosmetologist, spent six years on the Anne Arundel County Board of Education before being elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 1990. She has four children.

She is credited with winning funding for the new Chesapeake Center for the Creative Arts -- a $29 million home for theatre groups, exhibits and arts classes -- in her hometown of Brooklyn Park. The center earned a Gov. Parris N. Glendening Smart Growth Initiative award for making use of an existing building, the former Brooklyn Park High School.

Mrs. Cadden has taken on gun crime and welfare reform and is a member of the Appropriations Committee -- a post her constituents may not want to sacrifice.

If re-elected, Mrs. Cadden could face some uncomfortable moments at the State House, according to a Democratic colleague. Life in the State House could be particularly awkward, he said, because Mrs. Cadden heads the House Appropriations subcommittee on public safety and administration and could be the point man to handle issues related to sex offenders and child abuse.



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