AUBURN, Maine — Aaron Patton, a 38-year-old actor and hypnotist convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl, will spend six years in prison.
“Frankly, sir, at your age you should have known better,” Superior Court Justice Donald Marden said as he sentenced the Jay man. “I think you know you have done something wrong, but I am not sure you really understand just how much or how serious this is.”
Patton was sentenced to six years in prison for each of four counts of gross sexual assault. He also was sentenced to four years each on one count of unlawful sexual contact and two counts of sexual abuse of a minor. All but the initial six years were suspended.
When the prison term ends, Patton will face four years of probation.
The sentence ended more than 90 minutes of debate Monday that included tearful presentations from Patton and his family, as well as from the family of the victim, who is now 17.
“Her innocence, which was meant to be lost gradually over time, has been stripped from her,” her father told the judge. As he read from a prepared statement, he wiped away tears. “I wish I had counted the nights that I was up with her as she cried. I wish I could make the world feel what I felt as she trembled in my arms.”
At trial, the prosecution portrayed a man who had preyed on the girl since she was 12 years old.
She had began hypnotism treatments with him to help break a fingernail-biting habit, she testified during the January trial. She said Patton began touching her breasts and private parts. His advances escalated two years later when he took her into a bedroom and had sex with her in front of a mirror so they could watch, she testified.
The two soon were having sex about once a week, including anal and oral sex, she said. After each sexual encounter, he would hypnotize her in an effort to make her feel more comfortable about their trysts, she said.
Throughout the trial and on Monday, Patton said he had sex with the girl, but that she was 16 at the time. Maine law defines 16 as the age of consent.
He apologized for the hurt he had caused and repeated his feelings for the girl.
“I loved her then,” he said. “I love her now, and I wish her the best.”
Patton’s attorney, Henry Griffin, argued against a long prison sentence, saying Patton is “an excellent candidate for probation.”
Marden sided with the jury, in particular its conviction that backed the girl’s claim of ongoing abuse that lasted years.
Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Worden asked for a sentence of eight years and four years of probation. He said he was satisfied with a sentence that was two years shorter.
He commended the victim for testifying “in spite of tremendous pressures.”
Throughout the sentencing, Patton listened stoically until his family addressed the court, first his sister, then his mother and a brother.
“We just want to have him home,” said his brother.
Marden said he hoped Patton could serve his time and move on.
“You have a lot of talent,” the judge said. “You have a lot of intellect. I believe you are a spiritual person. And I think you have a fine family. I think it is right to serve your debt to society and put it behind you.”
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