Rockland jury clears woman of all but one charge in love triangle trial

Posted May 25, 2012, at 5:56 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A jury acquitted Friday afternoon a 30-year-old Rockland woman — accused of storming into the apartment of woman having an affair with her husband and assaulting her — of all but one criminal charge.

Jessica M. Arsenault was acquitted of charges of burglary, aggravated criminal trespass, domestic violence assault, criminal mischief and criminal threatening that were filed following an incident on Dec. 14 in Thomaston.

The jury of seven men and five women convicted Arsenault of simple assault against the other woman.

Sentencing may occur Wednesday afternoon in Knox County Superior Court if the victim is able to be contacted to give her an opportunity to make a statement.

Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Liberman said after the verdict that he has not decided what sentence to recommend.

The jury deliberated for more than three hours before reaching its verdict.

“This is a very sad story of two women misled by the same man,” Liberman said Friday morning during his closing arguments in Knox County Superior Court.

“Essentially Phil Arsenault was leading a double life,” the prosecutor said.

He said that the victim in the case had been told by the defendant’s husband that the couple had separated and divorce proceedings were under way. This was only a few months after his wife had given birth to their child, the prosecutor added.

Then Phil Arsenault left the girlfriend after he got her pregnant, Liberman said. The husband testified Thursday that he has reconciled and is back with his wife.

The prosecutor also recounted for jurors the testimony of prosecution witnesses during the two-day trial which showed that Jessica Arsenault went to the victim’s residence, pounded on the door, then pushed her way past the victim’s roommate and broke in a bedroom door where the other woman and her husband were located. Liberman told the jurors that Jessica Arsenault then grabbed the other woman by the hair and kicked and punched her in the face.

Jessica Arsenault also struck her husband during the encounter, Liberman said.

The prosecutor challenged the testimony of the husband who said his wife was let into the house, did not punch or kick the victim and did not assault him.

The victim and her roommate testified Thursday.

Defense attorney Robert Rubin of Rockport challenged the testimony of the victim during his closing arguments.

“She’s a 21-year-old competing for the love of Phil Arsenault,” Rubin said.

Rubin said there is no dispute that Jessica Arsenault grabbed the woman’s hair but said there was no punching or kicking. He said his client grabbed the other woman’s hair after the other woman laughed and smirked at her while in bed.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm presided over the trial. If sentencing can’t occur Wednesday it will have to be postponed until July because of the judge’s schedule at another court.

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