June 22, 2018
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Indian Island man accused of sex assault to serve 2 years on lesser charge

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The Indian Island man accused of sexually assaulting a Bangor woman Sept. 2, then riding on a bus with her to Calais, was sentenced Thursday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to five years in prison with all but two suspended after pleading guilty to an assault charge.

Shane W. Sapiel, 32, was indicted in October on charges of gross sexual assault, a Class A crime, and aggravated assault, a Class B crime.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Sapiel pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and the sex charge was dismissed, according to the Penobscot County district attorney’s office.

In addition to prison time, Sapiel was sentenced to two years of probation. Conditions include no contact with the victim and undergoing treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues.

The 23-year-old victim and Sapiel met Sept. 1 through a friend but did not know each other, according to a previously published report. She told police that Sapiel “forced his way into her Hammond Street apartment in Bangor just after midnight on the 2nd of September,” Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said in a statement issued Sept. 12, the day of Sapiel’s arrest. “T he victim reported that Sapiel assaulted her with a knife and also sexually assaulted her.”

Sapiel threatened the victim with a knife, cut her on the face and threatened to kill her, according to a previous report. In an effort to calm him down, she agreed to accompany him on a bus to Calais.

Once there, she was able to get away from Sapiel and went to the emergency room at Calais Regional Hospital, Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, said in September. She was treated for her knife cuts and other injuries and released.

Roberts said Thursday after Sapiel was sentenced that his office dropped the gross sexual assault charge because of “proof issues.”

“The victim admitted that she and the defendant had used bath salts the day before the assault,” the prosecutor said. “There was an issue about where and how they obtained those bath salts and she was reluctant to talk about that. I am confident that we had the evidence to obtain a conviction on the aggravated assault charge, but I’m not sure we could have proved beyond a reasonable doubt the sexual assault charge, primarily because of the bath salts issue.”

Sapiel’s attorney, Stephen Smith of Bangor, said after the sentencing that it was a “good deal” for his client. Smith said the prosecution would have had a difficult time proving its case on the sex charge.

“After their initial encounter, they went on a fairly lengthy bus trip to Calais with numerous stops along the way,” the attorney said. “They had encounters with neutral witnesses who observed nothing unusual about their relationship. If we had gone to trial, we would have called them as witnesses.”

The victim was not in court Thursday, according to Roberts.

Sapiel faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 on the aggravated assault charge. If he had been convicted of gross sexual assault, he would have faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

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