PORTLAND, Maine — Charges against former Maine State Police Chief Andrew E. Demers have been elevated to gross sexual assault in a case involving a young member of his family.
Demers’ attorney, Walter McKee of Augusta, said Friday that he anticipates his client will plead not guilty at an initial court appearance in Portland on Wednesday.
Demers, 73, of New Gloucester was arrested March 17 and initially charged with Class B unlawful sexual contact with a person younger than 12. He was released on $5,000 cash bail.
But according to the indictment, released by a Cumberland County grand jury this week and announced Friday, that charge has been upgraded to Class A gross sexual assault and Class B unlawful sexual contact, which prosecutors say occurred in February and March of this year.
The charge of gross sexual assault alleges a sexual act, Assistant District Attorney Michael Madigan said by phone Friday. Unlawful sexual contact alleges any sexual contact.
If convicted of gross sexual assault, Demers faces 30 years in prison.
Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said in March that a tip from a previous employee of Demers’ at the Maine State Police spurred the investigation. Detectives then investigated reports of “an ongoing unlawful sexual contact situation,” and interviewed witnesses and a suspected victim.
Joyce said Demers admitted to detectives that he had unlawful sexual contact with a younger member of his family. The sheriff also confirmed that Demers attempted suicide before the investigation began.
But McKee on Friday questioned why an indictment had been sought so quickly.
“I’m perplexed as to why the district attorney sought an indictment when the investigation had only begun,” he told the Bangor Daily News by phone. “It’s very odd to see a rush to a grand jury in a case that’s but a few weeks old. We haven’t even seen any evidence. I’m not sure why they were in such a big hurry to get him charged and to get him indicted.”
Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson, who is prosecuting the case, was out of the office Friday and could not be reached for comment.
Madigan said Friday that it’s unlikely Demers would be arrested again on the new charge. He said it’s possible bail could be increased.
Demers served 26 years with the Maine State Police and held the position of chief from 1987 to 1993, when he retired.
In 2003, Demers was the most decorated officer in state police history and was named a “Legendary Trooper,” the Sun Journal reported at the time.
To reach a sexual assault advocate, call the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Line at 800-871-7741, TTY 888-458-5599. This free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine. Calls are automatically routed to the closest sexual violence service provider.