A Hope man was indicted on 17 charges related to allegations that he sexually abused a child for a decade.
Thomas W. Shell Jr., 63, was indicted Wednesday by a Knox County grand jury on 11 counts of gross sexual assault, five counts of unlawful sexual contact and one count of visual sexual aggression against a child.
Shell was arrested in September after the Department of Health and Human Service reported the alleged abuse to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. The alleged female victim, who is now an adult, has a history of developmental disabilities, according to a police affidavit filed in court.
The alleged abuse began around 2006, according to the indictment, and went on for about 10 years. The indictment alleges that Shell knew the girl was disabled. The girl allegedly told police that Shell was a family friend.
Shell was previously investigated in 2016 for similar allegations brought by the same victim but there was not enough evidence at the time to support the allegations. During the most recent investigation, police obtained Facebook messages between Shell and the alleged victim that discussed “past and present sexual encounters they have had,” according to the affidavit.
During the 2016 investigation, Shell denied the claims of assault. However during last year’s investigation, in an interview with a Knox County detective, Shell admitted to a recent one-time sexual encounter with the alleged victim and “did not argue” the content of the Facebook messages, according to the affidavit.
If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 1-800-871-7741.