YORK — Police have charged a 66-year-old Hagerstown, Maryland man with one count of assault after they say he yanked a leash he had around his wife’s neck as they walked around the York Fair, causing red marks around her throat.
Walter William Wolford was charged Saturday after a witness saw the alleged abuse and contacted police.
The witness said she observed Wolford and his wife at the Fair. The victim had an 8-foot nylon leash around her neck, and the witness said she saw Wolford yank the leash until all the slack had gone out of it, causing the victim’s head to move backwards. The victim sustained red marks around her neck, the witness said.
While questioning Wolford at the West Manchester Township Police Station, the arresting officer observed the victim, who was in a “very disoriented” state.
Wolford told police his wife was suffering from advanced-stage dementia. He said that when he and his wife attended the York Fair last year, she was not wearing any restraints and wandered off and became lost for over an hour. He told police that this year, he felt his wife should have some form of restraint to prevent her from getting lost and came up with the leash idea, according to the criminal complaint.
Wolford said he originally had the leash around his wife’s waist, but it worked its way up to her neck. When she walked away, Wolford said, he “gently tugged at the leash so she would stop.”
Wolford’s son and daughter-in-law, who were also attending the Fair, told police that Wolford was not abusive.
Police charged Wolford with simple assault after consulting with the York County District Attorney’s Office and the York Area Agency on Aging. Wolford’s son took the victim into custody while Wolford was arraigned and processed, police say.