PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday unanimously upheld the rape conviction of a Bangor man now serving his prison term.
John Auclair, 45, was sentenced in October 2008 to eight years in prison with all but four suspended and three years of probation.
He was convicted by a jury in September 2008 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.
Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy excluded a transcript of that interview from Auclair’s trial. His legal team appealed the decision.
Mandi Odier-Fink, Auclair’s Bangor attorney, told the justices May 19 when they heard arguments in Penobscot County that her client should have been granted a new trial because DePhilippo’s comments should have been heard by the jury.
Odier-Fink argued that the statements were admissible under the social interest exception to the hearsay rule. Odier-Fink told the justices that the exception applied because the statements would have caused the victim to hate DePhilippo since her statements supported Auclair’s version of events.
The court disagreed.
In a three-page opinion, Justice Andrew Mead said that for the rule to have applied in Auclair’s case, the exception “must be read to encompass the response of the community at large — that is, the hatred, ridicule, or disgrace that occurs must arise in the community,” not just in one person.