ALEXANDRIA, VA – Parents of John E. Hamilton’s victims came to the Fairfax County Courthouse the first week of October looking for justice and closure. Instead they got another blow when they realized that the former Alexandria Little League coach indicted with sexual crimes against as many as 10 children wasn’t going to show for his plea hearing.
Hamilton, 37, failed to appear for a scheduled court date on Wednesday, Oct. 7. As a result, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest and nationwide extradition has been authorized. Fairfax County police detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Hamilton, who’s believed to be somewhere in Europe.
The parents of Hamilton’s victims, who agreed to speak with Local Kicks only if they were not identified, are now questioning why bail was set so low; why he was not sent back to jail when his bond was revoked, and why his passport wasn’t taken away.
“I never realized how important closure was,” one of the victims’ mothers said. “It’s sad that this man was allowed to leave the country. The bond was set so low – the legal system is discouraging.”
Her son was one of three boys scheduled to appear at Hamilton’s sentencing; it would have been their chance to finally confront him for what he had done. She didn’t know that her son had been victimized until the news came out and her son shared with her what had happened to him.
That same mother also asked, “How could this have happened? Why didn’t they take his passport? I feel like they failed me.”
The investigation into Hamilton’s sexual misconduct began in late February, when a 24-year-old victim of a sexual crime came forward after 12 years. Detectives from the Fairfax County Police Child Investigations Unit, assisted by FBI agents, conducted the investigation that led to the arrest of Hamilton.
According to the affadavit given by the male victim, who was 12 years old at the time of the offense, Hamilton engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with him periodically from March to July 1997. Hamilton was a Little League baseball coach for the Fort Hunt Youth Athletic Association at that time.
During the investigation, detectives learned that Hamilton currently had a 16-year-old, foreign exchange student living with him. That student was removed from the home by authorities.
In May, Fairfax County police charged Hamilton with six felonies involving sexual crimes against children. Following his arrest, Hamilton, was initially held without bond. However, he was later released from jail on $32,000 bond.
In June, a grand jury indicted Hamilton and bond was set. It was revoked when he contacted one of his alleged victims, but he was not sent back to jail. Hamilton was scheduled to enter a guilty plea two weeks ago, but he failed to appear.
The victims’ parents are not only asking about what they see as the court’s failure to keep Hamilton from running, but also wonder how he was able to get away with what he did for nearly 20 years.
“He was a regular figure in the sports community, and there were plenty of people who questioned, suspected, wondered and thought something was odd, but when all was said and done, nothing was done about it,” said one aggrieved parent.
Not only did Hamilton coach baseball and Little League for many years, but he was also a coach at West Potomac High School for one season and Bishop Ireton for another season. He was allegedly let go from Bishop Ireton amid allegations of inappropriate actions towards minors, said one of the parents.
One of the mothers, whose two sons played Little League and baseball for years, told Local Kicks: “We got to know him, but he seemed creepy to us – he was always mentoring a kid. He used to invite kids over to spend the night. There were always rumors, but nobody ever confronted him.”
Even 2nd Lt. John Brennan, a Fairfax County police officer for more than two decades, said, “I’d like to say I saw something, but I didn’t.”
Brennan’s son played under Hamilton’s tutelage for one Little League tournament. He added: “We had a great group of kids. I saw nothing.”
Photo by Gale Curcio/Local Kicks
Indicted child sex offender John Hamilton’s mother is the owner and operator of Wick’s Sport Lettering in Alexandria. His brother works there as well. Police say they suspect that the two may have aided in Hamilton’s escape from the country. He was last seen at the Frankfurt International Airport in early September with his mother.
When asked about how Hamilton could escape the clutches of the legal system, Brennan responded: “Once the police department investigates a case, it goes into the legal system. The bond is set by a magistrate; the bond reduction by a judge. Once we’re done with the case, it’s out of our hands. If police had anything to do with bonds, there would be no bad guys on the streets. I tell my guys – just do the right thing. What happens in court happens in court.”
Brennan said that Detective Jeremy Hinson, who worked the case, did as much as he could and by securing Hamilton’s indictment “did great” by all the victims.
“If it weren’t for Hinson, Hamilton never would have gone to a plea deal,” Brennan said. “He is a good cop and digs into his cases. Hinson did everything that he could.”
When Hamilton failed to appear for his hearing, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ian Rodway asked Judge Randy Bellows to issue an expedited bench warrant for Hamilton’s arrest.
Bellows agreed and issued the bench warrant. He also recommended that when Hamilton is found and re-arrested, that he be held without bond. Nationwide extradition was also authorized, but it has now come to light that Hamilton has left the country
A police source told Local Kicks that Rose Hamilton, the owner and operator of Wick’s Sporting Goods located on Route 1 in Alexandria, helped Hamilton to escape.
The global police network, INTERPOL, said in a statement that Rose Hamilton and her son John went to Frankfurt, Germany in September; she returned but apparently he did not. INTERPOL has now joined the worldwide manhunt. Hamilton was last seen on Sept. 8 at the Frankfurt am Main International Airport in Frankfurt, Germany.
While he could be anywhere, the police source said they are focusing on Germany and Denmark. He said they feel that Hamilton could easily blend in Denmark, given his 6’2” frame; it’s also the home country of one of his alleged victims.
The parents of victims expressed outrage that both Hamilton’s mother and his brother allegedly helped Hamilton leave the country. Rose Hamilton is owner and operator of Wick’s Sporting Goods and David Hamilton works there as well. The police said they suspected that each of them gave him $10,000 to flee to Europe.
Ironically, Wicks has supplied custom decorated sports apparel to just about every sports team in the Greater Alexandria area. On Wednesday, approached by a reporter, none of the store clerks or Rose or David Hamilton would speak with Local Kicks, declining comment unless both were present and consented.
On Wednesday, William M. “Bud” Walker, Jr., a Fairfax County Police Spokesman, said that there were no new developments in the case. Walker urged that the public contact them if they have any information about Hamilton’s whereabouts.
“It would go a long way if she would come forward,” said one of the parents, who asked not to be identified. “There should be consequences for what the mother supposedly did. John had no money; he never would have been able to leave the country if his mother hadn’t given it to him.”
Yet another woman said, “We did a lot of business with them; Rose Hamilton seemed normal to me.”
Brennan and others are concerned that the abuse might continue overseas.
“My greatest fear is that John Hamilton is going to set up shop somewhere else,” he said. “This guy’s got to pay for this.”
The mother of one of the victims said, “He will do this again – he can’t help himself. He won’t stop. I want him caught.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), e-mail at www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org or text “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES/274637. You may also call Detective J. Hinson at 703-246-7523 or the Fairfax County Police Department at 703-691-2131.
While 10 abuse survivors have come forward, law enforcement officials say they know there are more. The investigation continues and additional charges are possible. America’s Most Wanted plans to film a segment in November; they are asking for anyone who knows of Hamilton or his activities to please call 1-800-CRIME-TV.
(differences added by me)