BANGOR, Maine — A child caseworker from Vermont will spend 18 months behind bars for inappropriately touching a girl in Maine.
Jeffrey Parfitt, 26, was sentenced Friday to six years in prison with all but 18 months suspended, including three years of probation. Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, had requested Parfitt spend two years in prison.
Parfitt, who was a caseworker for the Vermont Department for Children and Families at the time of the crime, originally pleaded not guilty to one count of unlawful sexual contact during a September 2013 court appearance, but he changed his plea to guilty during another appearance two months later.
Before Maine Superior Court Justice William Anderson issued the sentence, Parfitt stood up and apologized to the family of the victim, who was about 9 years old at the time of the crime. Parfitt said he regretted his actions and “the pain and suffering [he] caused.”
He asked for the family’s forgiveness.
Prior to the incident, Parfitt had no criminal record.
The victim was not in court. Her grandmother spoke in court in advance of the sentencing.
“This man who came to Maine to check on the safety and well-being of my granddaughter actually destroyed that safety,” she said, adding that the girl is now afraid of men and struggles to sleep in her own room because she’s afraid of “monsters.”
“I just want him to realize what he did to her,” she said.
Anderson said that in spite of the brief nature of the inappropriate contact, and the fact that the accused man was charged with a Class B crime and had no criminal history, Parfitt deserved to spend time behind bars because he was brought in to ensure the girl was safe and instead violated her.
“Frankly, I think it’s monstrous,” Anderson said of the crime.
Parfitt, of Middlebury, Vt., visited the home of the girl and her father in Bangor in July 2013 to evaluate the child’s living situation in Maine. During that visit, the father claimed that Parfitt asked him to leave the house to pick up food at McDonald’s so that the caseworker and the child could speak in private. At some point during the visit, as he “performed an unnecessary and inappropriate examination” of the girl, he touched her vagina, according to the indictment.
Defense attorney David Paris of Bath claimed that Parfitt did not ask the father to leave and that he left on his own. He said giving Parfitt more than 9 months in prison would be “gratuitous.”
“Had the father never gone out, this might not have happened,” Paris said while arguing for a shorter prison sentence. After hearing that, the victim’s grandmother stood up and left the courtroom.
Paris asked for leniency because it was Parfitt’s first offense and a psychological evaluation found that he would be unlikely to reoffend.
During most of Friday’s proceedings at Penobscot Judicial Center, Parfitt looked down at his hands, which were clasped on the table in front of him. After he was sentenced and deputies prepared to usher him from the courtroom, Parfitt took off his tie, handed it to his family and waved to them.
Parfitt must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and also is barred from possessing pornography, using drugs or alcohol and using the Internet, and must submit to random polygraph tests as conditions of his probation.