ROCKLAND, Maine — A 48-year-old man who has spent nearly his entire adult life behind bars is asking a judge to give him a new trial for his 2011 conviction in the rape of a Rockport woman at knifepoint in her home.
Bradley Lemay is claiming he received ineffective counsel from attorney Christopher MacLean during the trial and sentencing three years ago.
“I’m not a monster. I’m a good person,” Lemay said during the hearing Monday in Knox County Superior Court.
Lemay did not testify at his 2011 sexual assault trial. On the witness stand Monday, he denied raping the Rockport woman. He acknowledged he was angry with women in general but blamed it on the women who had affairs with his father, affairs that ruined his family.
MacLean testified for 90 minutes on Monday that he and his former client had a very good working relationship, and there was no disagreement over trial strategy. Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald, who prosecuted Lemay, argued that Lemay received effective counsel and that MacLean spent many hours preparing for the trial.
Fernald also pointed out that Lemay hired MacLean after the trial for both an appeal and to defend him in a civil lawsuit brought by the victim.
Lemay was represented at Monday’s hearing by attorney Justin Andrus.
Andrus asked MacLean why he did not question one of the defense witnesses about the behavior of the alleged victim. During his questioning, Andrus said that one of the witnesses would have said that the victim stripped down in front of her, bought her a bikini, and acted sexually inappropriate in front of her and her husband.
Andrus said this testimony could have bolstered the defense’s position that the sex between Lemay and the Rockport woman was consensual.
Andrus also pointed out that MacLean had no face-to-face meetings with Lemay between the day of the conviction and the day of the sentencing. MacLean said he and his former client had discussed potential sentencing matters leading up to the trial, after the conviction at the courthouse, and prior to the start of the sentencing hearing.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm, who presided over Lemay’s trial, is hearing the post-conviction hearing.
Lemay was sentenced in June 2011 by Hjelm to 55 years in prison.
Lemay was accused of entering the Rockport home of the victim, a woman he had met through his landscaping job, and then raping her at knifepoint and forcing her to perform sex acts over four hours on June 8, 2010.
A Knox County Superior Court jury convicted Lemay of five charges related to the attack, including gross sexual assault, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, eluding police and tampering with a victim.
It was the third rape conviction for Lemay, who had spent more than two decades in prison for kidnapping and sex crimes that began when he was a juvenile.
He was released from Maine State Prison four months before the Rockport assault.
Before the trial, Lemay also sent a letter from jail to his brother asking him to visit the victim and persuade her to drop the charges. Lemay authorized the brother to offer the victim as much as $150,000 if she would do so. He also urged his brother to tell the woman that people were watching her and that she would be hurt if she did anything stupid.
The brother reported Lemay’s request to authorities.
Lemay also attempted to escape from the Knox County Jail in July 2010 but got caught on razor wire and fell, injuring his ankle.
“Mr. Lemay has proven himself to be a very dangerous individual who is not hesitant about engaging in acts of violence,” Hjelm said at the 2011 sentencing hearing. “Mr. Lemay is a person who is not capable of living in an open and peaceful society.”
Fernald had asked the judge to sentence Lemay to a total of 76 years in prison for his crimes.
Lemay’s criminal history began in 1983, when he was convicted of rape and burglary as a juvenile. Lemay then was convicted of kidnapping and gross sexual conduct in 1989, for which he served 21 years of a 35-year sentence.
On Monday, MacLean said that Lemay had chosen not to testify in his June 2011 trial. MacLean had argued during the 2011 trial that Lemay’s sexual encounter with the Rockport woman was consensual and added that the 76-year sentence requested by the state was not fair or balanced. He argued that 76 years was more than what most murderers receive. The defense attorney requested that his client receive a sentence of 15 to 20 years for the sexual assault conviction.
At the sentencing hearing, Hjelm said that he very much appreciated MacLean’s efforts on behalf of his client, which represented “the best of the Maine bar.”