February 10

Two Franklin County men sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting children

A Chesterville man and a former Eustis man each pleaded guilty to charges as part of sentencing deals.

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — A Chesterville man and a former Eustis man were each convicted in Franklin County Superior Court Monday of having unlawful sexual contact with children.

Jason Bergeron, 36, of Chesterville, pleaded guilty to the class C crime as part of a plea deal in which another charge was dropped. The unlawful sexual contact charge was for forcibly rubbing himself against a young girl multiple times between June 2012 and July 2013.

Bergeron was sentenced by Justice Nancy Mills to serve 18 months of a five-year prison sentence and serve four years probation.

The maximum sentence for the crime is five years in prison with two years of probation, but Assistant District Attorney Jim Andrews said with sexual crimes, judges can issue a longer probation than two years.

Bergeron was arrested on July 30 on the charge and on Monday waived his right to a grand jury indictment.

Charges of sexually assaulting the same victim were dropped by the prosecution because of concerns about a lack of evidence, said Andrews.

Andrews said he told the victim about the sentencing agreement. He said the victim described the period of abuse as frightening and wanted to see a longer sentence, but understood the arrangement.

“It’s fair to say (she) is not satisfied with this. She is satisfied the state has done what it can under the circumstances,” he said.

As part of the sentence, Bergeron is not allowed to have contact with the victim, her family or have any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16. He will also need to undergo counseling for sex offenders and for substance abuse.

Also on Monday, a former Eustis man, arrested while a resident of Connecticut, was sentenced to serve three years in prison for unlawfully sexually touching a child.

David Rhoades, 45, was arrested in September, four years after police first issued a warrant for his arrest.

In 2008, following a Department of Health and Human Services referral, police interviewed a 4-year-old girl who said that Rhoades touched her multiple times and then told her not to tell anyone because it was a secret.

Lt. David St. Laurent, of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, reported in court documents that by the time he finished the interviews and went to find Rhoades, he was gone. The state continued to renew a warrant for his arrest until Rhoades was arrested in a traffic stop last fall and extradited to Maine to face the charge.

Attorney Walter Hanstein said the court record should note that Rhoades initially turned himself in to the police in Connecticut after he learned there was a warrant for his arrest. He waited 90 days in jail.

“He made some efforts to take care of it ... he served time but is not going to get credit for it,” Hanstein said.

Rhoades was sentenced by Mills to serve three years of a 10-year prison sentence followed by 12 years of probation. The maximum sentence for the class B crime is 10 years.

He will also need to register as a sex offender, have no contact with the victim and attend counseling for sex offenders.

Assistant District Attorney Josh Robbins said the terms of the sentence were shared with the victim and her family, who were in agreement.

Rhoades has a prior conviction in 2004 for sexual assault with risk of injury in Connecticut.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 kschroeder@centralmaine.com
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