An Augusta man must serve 60 years in prison for sexually assaulting two boys who attended his karate school, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled Tuesday.
Wade Robert Hoover, 39, will begin serving that sentence after he completes a 40-year sentence on federal charges. He is due to be released from a U.S. penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona, in August 2047, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator website.
Hoover, who pleaded guilty in 2015 in state court to four counts of gross sexual assault, admitted that in 2012 he drugged and sexually abused two boys who were enrolled at his Lewiston karate studio. He also admitted that he videotaped the assaults, which took place in Kennebec and Somerset counties.
Scott Hess, Hoover’s Augusta attorney for the state case, argued that the 60-year sentence was disproportionate to the crimes he committed and violates the Maine Constitution.
“Twenty-five to 30 years in prison would have been sufficient to meet the goal of public safety,” Hess told the justices at oral arguments in May at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.
The state’s high court disagreed.
“Hoover urges that a more lenient sentence was appropriate because he did not physically injure, kidnap, torture, maim, mutilate, or murder the victims,” Justice Donald Alexander wrote for the court. “However, the gravity of the offenses for which Hoover was convicted is substantial given the court’s findings of the victims’ young ages, Hoover’s repeated sexual assaults over a period of years, breaches of the victims’ trust, the use of drugs to incapacitate the victims, penetration, and the memorialization of his sexual violence by photographing and videotaping his degrading acts.”
Hoover’s attorney, Scott Hess, asked the justices to create criteria similar to those used in murder cases to guide judges in determining when to impose de facto life sentences in child sexual abuse case. The court refused.
“Sixty years is not too long of a prison sentence for the gross sexual assault of two children,” said Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, whose office prosecuted Hoover. “The number one purpose of our criminal laws is to protect the most vulnerable of our society. No one is more vulnerable than a child. I am grateful to the law court for upholding the sentence and affirming the convictions.”
Efforts to reach Hess were unsuccessful Tuesday.
The Legislature in the last decade has passed laws that increased penalties in child sexual assault cases, but has not imposed a mandatory minimum sentence.
Under Maine’s version of Jessica’s Law, judges are to start their sentencing analyses at 20 years if the victim is under the age of 12. There is no maximum penalty.
Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy in February 2016 sentenced Hoover to 25 years on the charge out of Somerset County and 35 years on the three counts out of Kennebec County. She ordered that Hoover serve the two state sentences consecutively, with the combined 60-year sentence to be served concurrently with his 40-year federal sentence for production and possession of child porngraphy.
The court on Tuesday upheld those sentences.
This was the second time the state supreme court has ruled on an appeal by Hoover. In August 2015, the justices unanimously rejected an argument that the prosecution of Hoover in state and federal court violated the
Constitutional protection against double jeopardy.