BANGOR, Maine — A weeping mother on Tuesday urged a Superior Court judge to send the man convicted of sexually assaulting her daughter to prison for five years, the maximum allowed under the law.
Superior Court Justice Kirk Studstrup, who presided over the trial, sentenced David Churchill, 26, of Fort Fairfield to 40 months in prison with all but 12 months suspended and two years of probation in an hourlong hearing at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Churchill will be required to register as a sex offender for life after his release. While on probation, he will have to participate in sex offender therapy and may have no unsupervised contact with minors younger than 16.
The former Marine was found guilty Jan. 19 after a jury trial of having unlawful sexual contact with a 12-year-old girl 18 months ago. He was found not guilty of the more serious charge of gross sexual assault.
Churchill was taken into custody immediately to begin serving his sentence.
The victim, now 13, attended the hourlong sentencing hearing but did not address the judge. She did submit a written impact statement to the court, which was sealed from public view.
The victim’s mother called Churchill’s crime against her daughter “horrifying.” She said that since the assault, the girl has been unable to sleep alone, has become afraid of men, has stopped attending church and has needed counseling to deal with the trauma she endured.
The Bangor Daily News is not identifying the mother in order to protect the identity of her daughter.
The woman also told Studstrup that even though Churchill’s attorney described her in his statements to the jury as the “defendant’s girlfriend,” she never had a sexual relationship with the defendant.
“We came to believe he was a friend,” she said.
The victim and her mother, who both live in Bangor, knew Churchill through a church they attended in Brewer.
The victim cried last month as she told jurors that Churchill began kissing and undressing her in her mother’s bed early on the morning of July 21, 2009. She testified that the defendant touched her under her clothing before undressing himself.
She told jurors that she pushed him off her after he unsuccessfully attempted to have sexual intercourse with her. A short time later, Churchill dropped her off at a baby-sitting job.
Michael Roberts, the deputy district attorney for Penobscot County who prosecuted the case, recommended Tuesday that the judge sentence Churchill to three or four years in prison without any probation. He also told Studstrup that a protection from abuse order was issued last year from Newport District Court after Churchill allegedly had sexual contact on July 26, 2009, with a 15-year-old who was a visitor to the Hermon residence where he was living temporarily in summer 2009.
Churchill has not been charged in that incident, Roberts said.
The prosecutor also urged Studstrup to consider the victim’s testimony and other evidence submitted in support of the gross sexual assault charge of which Churchill was acquitted.
Studstrup said he would not consider testimony or evidence about the gross sexual assault charge.
Defense attorney Hunter Tzovarras of Hampden urged the judge to sentence his client to nine months at the Penobscot County Jail and a period of probation. He also told Studstrup that his client’s criminal history is limited to several convictions for operating after the suspension of his driver’s license.
Tzovarras said he would appeal the conviction to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Studstrup denied a defense motion that Churchill remain free on bail.
Churchill faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 on the unlawful sexual contact charge. If convicted of gross sexual assault, he would have faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.