Deaf Bradley man sentenced to 8 months for sex abuse; signs tearful apology in court

Posted May 23, 2012, at 6:52 p.m.
Timothy Damien looks into the gallery as he enters the coutroom at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor, Maine, Wednesday, May 23, 2012.
Michael C. York | BDN
Timothy Damien looks into the gallery as he enters the coutroom at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor, Maine, Wednesday, May 23, 2012.

BANGOR, Maine — A Bradley man was sentenced Wednesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to four years in prison with all but eight months suspended for sexually abusing a female relative in 2008 and 2009.

Timothy Damien, 44, also was sentenced to four years of probation. As a result of his conviction, Damien will have to register as a sex offender for life.

Damien pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of unlawful sexual contact, both Class C crimes, as his trial was about to begin.

Through an American Sign Language interpreter, Damien, who was born deaf, issued a tearful apology to his now 16-year-old victim at his sentencing.

“I am really, truly sorry for whatever I did to you in the past,” he signed to interpreter Marvin Sallop of Boston. “I swear to never, ever, ever do it to you again or to anyone else.”

The victim, who was in court on Wednesday, did not address Superior Court Justice William Anderson. Carlene Engstrom, the victim-witness advocate for Penobscot County, said she had been asked to speak on the girl’s behalf. The girl is not deaf.

“She loved the defendant as a father figure,” Engstrom told the judge. “She feels conflicted. She hates him for what he did. What she wants him to do is get help.”

In his address to the judge, Damien signed, “I want to get better.”

Conditions of Damien’s probation include sex offender treatment, no contact with the victim or her family, no unsupervised contact with minors, not being in places where children congregate, such as playgrounds, and no possession of pornography.

More than a year ago, the Penobscot County grand jury indicted Damien on five counts of unlawful sexual contact and three counts of unlawful sexual touching.

He faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 on the charges to which he pleaded guilty. The other charges, which included Class B crimes that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, were dismissed Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Alice Clifford, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, told Anderson what the victim would have told the jury if Damien had gone to trial.

“If the victim were to testify, she would say that when she lived with the defendant in Bradley she would wake up in the middle of the night with him on top of her,” she told the judge.

On Wednesday, the prosecutor said that Damien would come into the victim’s bedroom at night and awaken her, then use physical force to hold her down. He also held his hand over her mouth so she could not scream or call out for help.

The girl tried to keep him out, Clifford told Anderson, but Damien broke into her room even though she put a lock on the door and a chair under the doorknob in an attempt to keep him from abusing her. Clifford said that Damien tried to keep the girl from telling anyone about what was happening.

“He threatened to kill himself if she told,” the prosecutor said. “Once, he held a knife to his throat to reinforce that idea.”

Clifford recommended that Damien be sentenced to five years in prison with all but three and a half or four years suspended and four years of probation.

Defense attorney Randy Day of Garland urged the judge to send his client to a treatment facility rather than prison. Day said that for Damien, prison would be a “silent hell” without access to interpreters.

Damien had been on bail since he was arraigned last July 9, Clifford said after Tuesday’s hearing. He was arrested Monday when he did not return to the courthouse after jury selection. He was to have been in court for a hearing on a motion to suppress, she said.

He was not fingerprinted or photographed Monday night and was considered by jail personnel to be uncooperative, Clifford said Tuesday.

Through Sallop, Damien told Anderson after he entered his plea that because there was no interpreter at the jail, he did not understand what jail officials wanted him to do. After Anderson accepted Damien’s plea on Tuesday, Sallop went to the jail to interpret for him.

Sallop was one of three interpreters in the courtroom on Monday, when a jury was selected, and on Tuesday and Wednesday. While Sallop sat at the defense table, Jana Owen and Natalie Atlas, both of New York City, took turns sitting in front of Anderson interpreting the proceedings for Damien. A fourth interpreter on Tuesday was available for a deaf woman who had been called as a witness for the trial.

The court system is required by law to provide language interpreters for criminal defendants. While there are a number of American Sign Language interpreters in the Bangor area, the court had to go out of state to obtain enough interpreters certified to translate the legal language used in court proceedings.

The final cost for the interpreters’ services was not available Wednesday.

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