September 20, 2011

Pittston man sentenced to 10 years for sexual assault

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- A Pittston man will spend the next 10 years behind bars for sexually assaulting a 3-year-old boy in the child's Vassalboro home.

Troy D. Tibbetts, 35, was sentenced Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court to 20 years in prison with all but 10 years suspended and six years' probation. He had pleaded guilty in June to gross sexual assault occurring between Nov. 4, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009, in Vassalboro.

The sentence was enhanced because of a law passed in 2006 by the Legislature that increased penalties for individuals convicted of sexually assaulting children younger than 12.

That law says the basic sentence in the case is 20 years in prison. Judges then can adjust the final sentence depending on the circumstances of the crime and the offender's history.

"Justice Murphy, in her comments, indicated the Legislature had spoken very clearly that these cases are to be taken seriously," said District Attorney Evert Fowle, shortly after the hearing.

"We were very pleased with this sentence and that the court adopted our recommendation," Fowle said. "The law change has really had a dramatic impact of the severity of these sentences. We've seen at least a doubling in severity of sentences imposed for crimes like these."

The boy's mother, now 27, said he has nightmares, wets the bed, has problems at school and can't be unsupervised around other children.

"He has a heightened sense of sexuality," she said. "He doesn't understand why he does these things. It's because he was molested."

The woman, 27, said she hopes to write a book about the need for open communication between parents and children.

"My son means everything to me and I want to do everything I can to help other moms from being in this situation," she said. "Talk to your child. Ask what did you do with this person. Be open with them and read books about privacy."

She said the boy kept the abuse a secret for a year and a half.

It is the policy of The Kennebec Journal not to identify victims in stories about sex-abuse cases.

Tibbetts spoke during the hearing, as well.

"He said he was sorry and remorseful and this had been weighing on him every day," said Tibbetts' attorney, Harold J. Hainke. "I don't know if it's possible for a person to show more remorse. He accepted responsibility in initial police interview and recognized it was a serious offense."

Hainke had asked the judge to limit the initial jail time to four years so Tibbetts would be eligible for a sex offender treatment program at the Maine Correctional Center. It is not available to those with a longer prison term, who are generally sent to a different facility.

"There was an opportunity for a good treatment program, but the court felt that deterrence was more important," Hainke said.

"It was a very emotional experience for everyone," Hainke added. "It's clear from what I had to say and what the people who knew him said that he was not a bad person but he did a bad thing."

Betty Adams -- 621-5631

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