ROCKLAND, Maine — A 19-year-old Warren man will serve nine months in the county jail after the fall harvest as punishment for sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl he was babysitting.
Justice Joyce Wheeler agreed Wednesday in Knox County Superior Court to a negotiated sentence agreement reached between the district attorney’s office and defense lawyer in the case of Nicholas Guernsey.
Guernsey was convicted of unlawful sexual contact through an Alford plea in which he did not admit his guilt but acknowledged that the state had sufficient evidence to convict him. Wheeler sentenced him to seven years in prison with all but nine months suspended. He also will be on probation for 12 years and is barred from contact with anyone younger than 16 unless they are family members and the contact is supervised.
Justice Wheeler agreed to have Guernsey begin his sentence on Nov. 15 so that he can continue to help a farmer with the fall harvest. Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald took no position on the stay of execution of the sentence, pointing out that if the defendant had gone to trial, the case would not have been heard until fall at the earliest.
The prosecutor said evidence would have shown that Guernsey was babysitting the 5-year-old girl in February at her family’s home in Union. When the parents arrived home, the child reported that Guernsey had hurt her in her private area. The child was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport where doctors noted redness in the genital area.
Guernsey told police he may have accidentally touched the girl in her private area when he was drying her off after a bath, but he denied sexually assaulting her.
Fernald said the state agreed to the sentence for several reasons. The defendant has significant mental limitations, had no criminal history, and is pleading so that the child would not have to testify. In addition, the 12 years of probation will require Guernsey to undergo sex offender counseling, he said.
Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt said his client continues to deny that he sexually assaulted the child. Guernsey agreed to the sentence because he will serve the nine-month sentence at the county jail rather than the Maine State Prison. He said his client was concerned about his safety if he had to serve time at the state prison because of all the assaults that occur there against convicted sex offenders.
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.