Elderly man charged with raping girl

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An elderly Maryland man has been charged with raping a 9-year-old Cortland girl.

A social worker at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Maryland contacted Cortland Police after Howard Garfield, 81, of Towson, Md., said he was having suicidal thoughts and admitted to sexually assaulting the girl while on a camping trip in Cortland, according to a Trumbull County prosecutor’s arrest affidavit. The girl, now 11, was between 9 and 10 years old at the time.

Garfield has been charged with two counts of rape and is being held in the Cecil County Jail in Maryland awaiting extradition to Cortland. He is expected in court early next week.

Garfield told the VA social worker he sent the girl sexually explicit text messages and that he “likes little girls,” the affidavit says.

The social worker contacted Cortland police May 3 and officers notified the girl’s family in Cortland.

The girl’s mother told police Howard was a longtime family friend and had extensive interaction with her family and children. The girl’s mother also said she recently discovered the girl received sexually laced text messages from Howard. The messages included references to the two cuddling, kissing and bathing together. Garfield also referred to the victim as his “girlfriend” in the text messages.

Police in Baltimore issued a search warrant at Garfield residence in Townson, Md. On their first interview, Garfield denied the allegations and said he never made any statements to hospital personnel about a sexual assault. Later, he admitted to digitally assaulting the girl on two separate occasions within a two-year period when she was 9 and 10 years old inside a camper on the family’s property in Cortland.

Garfield also admitted to sexually assaulting his ex-wife’s sister when he was 22 years old and the girl was 9.

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