ROCKLAND, Maine — A 22-year-old Vinalhaven man will spend eight years in prison and then be placed on supervised release for 30 years after he admitted to sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl.
Nathaniel S. Small pleaded guilty Wednesday in Knox County Superior Court to two counts of gross sexual assault, four counts of unlawful sexual contact, and one count of visual aggression against a child. Justice Joyce Wheeler accepted the agreement reached between the district attorney’s office and defense in which Small would receive an eight-year prison term followed by probation for 30 years.
The investigation began late last summer when the parents of the girl notified state police that their child had informed them that Small had committed the offenses.
The offenses occurred at a Vinalhaven home the child was visiting, according to police at the time of Small’s arrest in October.
According to police, Small confessed and said that he knew what he did was wrong. He also told investigators he had taken sexually explicit photos of the child but had since destroyed them.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald said an aggravating factor in the case was the breach of trust between the child and Small. The prosecutor pointed out, however, that Small took responsibility and his pleading guilty means that the child did not have to testify before a grand jury or at a trial. Small has no criminal history, Fernald said.
The prosecutor said the victim’s family supported the sentence.
Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt said Small’s youth is another mitigating factor in terms of Maine law and sentencing. Small is adopted but before that he had been in numerous foster homes and had been the subject of abuse, Pratt said.
Small also is cognitively impaired, the attorney said.