WINCHESTER — A Frederick County man accused of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl will undergo a psychiatric evaluation at a state mental hospital to see if he is fit to stand trial.
On Tuesday in Frederick County Circuit Court, Judge William Warner Eldridge IV ordered the evaluation of Steven Alan Lingle. Attorney Thomas L. Fox, who represents Lingle, told Eldrige that his client has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, a form of brain damage that impairs judgment, memory and reasoning.
Fox said after the hearing that the condition is similar to Alzheimer’s disease, and Lingle is unlikely to improve. He said if Lingle is judged incompetent, he could be committed to a mental institution if deemed a danger to the public.
Lingle, 66, has been charged with rape, aggravated sexual battery, sexual penetration and two counts of forcible sodomy in Frederick County and aggravated sexual battery, sexual penetration and violation of a child in Clarke County. He is accused of digitally penetrating and performing oral sex on the girl in his home in 100 block of Sequoia Drive and at a Clarke County home between March 4, 2018, and Nov. 13 of last year.
The investigation included an interview of the girl by Alissa J. Singhas, a Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputy who is trained to speak with children who may have been victims of sex crimes. Singhas wrote in a search warrant affidavit that the girl described being fondled by Lingle.
To determine his mental competency, Lingle was interviewed at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center by April M. Szilagyi, a clinical and forensic psychologist and certified sex offender treatment provider representing the defense. Eldridge said Szilagyi found Lingle was mentally incompetent and his condition was “not restorative.”
However, an evaluation by a clinical psychologist representing the prosecution reached a different conclusion, according to Heather D. Enloe, a Frederick County assistant commonwealth’s attorney. She said Sara E. Boyd found that while Lingle’s competency was questionable, he might be exaggerating his symptoms.
Enloe told Eldridge a more comprehensive evaluation could be done at a mental hospital than the ones performed at the jail. Given the seriousness of the alleged crimes, she said further evaluation is warranted.
Eldridge agreed. If found incompetent, he said the report will determine if Lingle’s competency can be restored. “He is charged with serious crimes and I need to balance that in the interests of justice and make sure it is resolved appropriately,” Eldridge said.
Hospital evaluators have about six months to complete the report. Lingle is due back in court at 9 a.m. May 18.