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NSA chief accused of beating 3-year-old adopted son to death...

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(by Dan Morse and Dana Hedgpeth, The Washington Post) -- Brian O’Callaghan fought in Iraq, mastered Arabic and became a division chief at the National Security Agency. Last year, wanting a second child for their young family, he and his wife adopted a 3-year-old boy from South Korea.

“He was so loving of him,” a family member said.

It is a background that made allegations revealed in Montgomery County District Court on Tuesday seem all the more stunning: Alone with the boy — with his wife out of town, his other son in a different part of the house — O’Callaghan repeatedly struck the child, hitting him so hard that the boy died two days later.

“An absolutely horrific crime on an absolutely innocent young victim,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Donna Fenton, listing injuries to the boy’s head, neck and back. “Basically this child was beaten to death from head to toe.”

Based in part on her assertions, Judge William Simmons denied bond for O’Callaghan, who has been charged with first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. The hearing was the first in the case, one that O’Callaghan’s attorney said was not what police and prosecutors were making it out to be.

“This was a terrible, terrible tragedy — and not a crime,” said the lawyer, Steven McCool.

O’Callaghan’s wife, Jennifer, his parents and his in-laws came to court. “He has the unwavering support of his family,” McCool said. “They know he is incapable of committing the crimes alleged.”

O’Callaghan, 36, said little during the hearing as his image was piped in via a video feed from jail.

He attended the University of Northern Colorado and, by 1997, was serving in the Marine Reserve, according to McCool and military officials. He served in Kosovo. In 2003, while deployed in Iraq, he earned the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his part in a firefight that helped lead to the rescue of captured soldier Jessica Lynch, according to military records and McCool.

At some point, O’Callaghan went to work for the NSA, where he is chief of the Korea Division in the analysis and production section and holds a top-secret intelligence clearance, McCool said.

At home, he and his wife had one son, who is now 7. They worked through Catholic Charities to qualify to adopt a child with special needs — which is how they adopted Hyunsu from Korea in October. The family called him Madoc, an Irish addition to his name.

For three months, Jennifer O’Callaghan was the boy’s primary caretaker, according to police. In January, Brian O’Callaghan went on leave to care for Madoc, while his wife went back to work. On Jan. 31, she went to New Jersey, and he and their sons stayed at their home in Damascus, authorities said.

It is here that the accounts about what happened differ substantially.

According to Fenton, the prosecutor, some time on the night of Jan. 31 or into the next day, O’Callaghan beat Madoc.

From there, O’Callaghan didn’t render aid, Fenton said. Instead, he moved his injured son from a bed to a blanket and cleaned bodily fluids from inside the home — finally taking Madoc to a hospital in Germantown. The child was in full arrest, Fenton said.

The boy died Feb. 3, police said. An autopsy confirmed injuries consistent with being beaten, Fenton said. Among them: a fracture at the base of skull, bruises to the forehead, swelling of the brain and wounds to other parts of the body. There was also “blunt impact to the back from a linear and triangular shaped object,” Fenton said in court. Continue reading via The Washington Post...

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