AUBURN, Maine — A certified hypnotist practiced his craft on a 14-year-old girl each time after sex with her in an effort to “keep her quiet,” a prosecutor said Monday.
An attorney for Aaron Patton, 37, of Jay, held a different view, telling a jury in Androscoggin County Superior Court that the girl his client had sex with was 16 at the time and was of legal age to consent to the act.
According to Maine law, the status of the relationship between Patton and the alleged victim is an important part of the crime. The prosecutor and defense attorney disputed that status Monday.
The Sun Journal does not disclose the identity of victims of sex assault.
Patton was indicted on four counts of gross sexual assault, each charge punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He also was charged with unlawful sexual contact and two counts of sexual abuse of a minor, all Class C felonies.
The alleged victim, now 17 years old, testified Monday on the first day of Patton’s trial that he groomed her at an early age for future sexual abuse.
Besides earning a living as an actor and screenwriter, Patton had a sign on the front lawn of his Livermore Falls home advertising hypnotherapy. He began treating the alleged victim with hypnotism when she was 8 years old to break her of a nail-biting habit. When she was 12 years old, she would meet with him under the guise of treatment and he began to touch her breasts and private parts, she said, testifying in a hushed tone. When she turned 14, he began having sexual intercourse with her about once a week. They also engaged in oral and anal sex, she said.
She told the jury Patton would hypnotize her after sex and tell her not to tell anyone about their trysts.
“And it worked for a time,” the prosecutor said.
When her mother found out after she had turned 16, they went to local police, who searched Patton’s Jay home and found evidence the girl had been there, including lingerie he had given her as well as sexual aids she had identified before the search. Police testified Monday about what they found.
Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Worden asked the teen if the hypnosis made her “feel calmer about the situation.” She answered that it did.
She also said she was in love with Patton and knew her mother would object if she found out about their relationship, so she kept it secret for two years.
Her feelings toward him changed a few months after Patton had last hypnotized her, she said. Her mother had restricted the girl’s movements after her grades had dropped, she said.
Henry Griffin, Patton’s attorney, told the jury in his opening statements that Patton admitted having sex with the girl, but she had been 16 at the time, he said. Under state law, his client hadn’t acted criminally, despite the 20-year difference in their ages.
Griffin said his client plans Tuesday to tell his side of the story that would reveal a different set of circumstances surrounding his sexual relationship with the alleged victim. Griffin said she was 2 years older than alleged by prosecutors when she first had sex with Patton. He didn’t compel her to have sex with him, Griffin said.
He suggested the alleged victim might have had an ulterior motive for making the accusation against Patton.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.