ELLSWORTH, Maine — While choking back tears, the victim of four years of sexual assault when she was a child addressed the judge Friday at her attacker’s sentencing.
Larry Bunt, 53, of Deer Isle, “deserves whatever sentence he receives,” said the teenage girl, who knew her perpetrator personally. “But I also believe he doesn’t deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Justice Robert Murray sentenced Bunt to 14 years in prison with all but six suspended, as well as 10 years of probation. A Hancock County Superior Court jury found Bunt guilty on Wednesday of five counts of gross sexual assault and three counts of unlawful sexual contact.
Bunt was arrested on Dec. 5 after the victim, now a teenager, told a detective that Bunt had sexually assaulted her “about every other week” while she was between 4 and 8 years old. Bunt ultimately was charged with assaults that took place in Sedgwick and Deer Isle between May 2000 and December 2003.
The victim said Bunt touched her and forced her to touch him, according to an affidavit.
Murray said the long sentence is warranted because of the high number of offenses and the length of time they spanned. He also said the emotional and psychological damage caused to the victim and her family had been severe, and would likely continue to be.
“The conduct in this case victimized a very young child,” Murray said. Because Bunt and the victim knew each other, Murray said a “breach of trust” was also an aggravating factor in the offense, leading to the 14-year sentence.
Bunt said nothing during his sentencing hearing. During the trial, he claimed he had never assaulted the girl.
However, in an interview with State Police Detective Jay Pelletier the day he was arrested, Bunt admitted to two instances of molesting the girl, but said he couldn’t remember there being any more. He said he didn’t know why he did it.
“I’m willing to stand up and face the consequences, because I did the crime, I gotta do the time,” Bunt said, according to a transcript of the conversation provided to the Bangor Daily News.
Bunt’s girlfriend, Darlene Turner, said Bunt only confessed to police because he was frustrated.
“When he gets PO’d, he runs his mouth,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be true, it doesn’t have to make sense.”
Jeffrey Toothaker, Bunt’s attorney, said his client does not plan to appeal the verdict or the sentence. After Bunt is released from prison, probation conditions will include no contact with minor girls, no contact with the victim, sex offender counseling and registration on the sex offender registry.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.