Law Court justices to decide retrial in sex assault

Posted May 17, 2009, at 9:12 p.m.
Members of The Maine Supreme Judicial Court  (back L - R) Hon. Andrew M. Mead, Hon. Jon D. Levy, Hon. Warren M. Sil-ver and Hon. Ellen A. Gorman; (front L – R) Hon. Robert W. Clifford, Hon. Leigh I. Saufley and Hon. Donald G. Alexan-der.
Photo courtesy of State of Maine Government website
Members of The Maine Supreme Judicial Court (back L - R) Hon. Andrew M. Mead, Hon. Jon D. Levy, Hon. Warren M. Sil-ver and Hon. Ellen A. Gorman; (front L – R) Hon. Robert W. Clifford, Hon. Leigh I. Saufley and Hon. Donald G. Alexan-der.

BANGOR, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court will decide if a Bangor man convicted of gross sexual assault should be granted a new trial because comments made by a woman who died shortly before his September trial began were improperly excluded.

The justices will hear arguments Tuesday in John Auclair’s appeal during their annual visit to Penobscot County Superior Court.

Auclair, 45, was sentenced in October to eight years in prison with all but four years suspended and three years of probation.

Auclair was convicted of sexually assaulting a female acquaintance in the early morning hours of Oct. 14, 2007, after he, the victim and his girlfriend had been out drinking in Bangor. His girlfriend, Sherry DePhilippo, 38, of Glenburn, who was expected to corroborate Auclair’s version of events, was killed in a car accident six months before his trial.

DePhilippo, however, was interviewed by a private investigator hired by the defense about events the night the sexual assault occurred.

Attorney Mandi Odier-Fink of Bangor, who is representing Auclair in the appeal, will argue before the justices Tuesday that those statements should have been presented to the jury. Assistant District Attorney Susan Pope will argue that they were properly excluded as hearsay.

The justices also will hear arguments for the second time in an eight-year dispute over a proposed pier in Salisbury Cove on shorefront property owned by Anthony and Erin Uliano. The saga began in 2001 when the couple first applied to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection for a 95-foot-long pier and float system in front of their property on Eastern Bay.

The application initially was approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection. After neighbors objected to the proposal and appealed to BEP, the board overturned the decision. The pier, BEP decided, would have an adverse impact on the predominantly natural setting of the bay, which separates Mount Desert Island from Lamoine and Trenton.

The Ulianos appealed the decision to the state’s high court four years ago. The justices sent the matter back to BEP, which again denied the pier permit in 2008. In November, Superior Court Justice Kevin Cuddy upheld the board’s decision and the Ulianos again appealed, arguing that BEP’s ruling still is too vague.

The state supreme court also will hear appeals in:

• A dispute between Bar Harbor Bank and Trust and Christopher Gordon over the foreclosure and public sale of property.

• A Hancock County case in which a jury awarded but a Superior Court justice voided $200,000 in damages to an Ellsworth couple for the lost value of land on Green Lake.

jharrison@bangordailynews.net

990-8207

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