May 22, 2018
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Custody issue, timing of report lead to plea deal in 12-year-old sex assault case

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A custody dispute and the 12 years it took a woman to report an assault were factors in a plea agreement approved Monday in a child sex abuse case.

A 32-year-old South Thomaston man will spend 14 days in jail if he adheres to a deal reached to dispose of six counts that he had sex 12 years ago with an underage girl.

John P. Thompson III pleaded guilty Monday in Knox County Superior Court to sexual abuse of a minor. Five other counts of the same charge were dismissed.

If Thompson refrains from additional criminal conduct and performs 100 hours of public service during the next 12 months, the remaining sexual abuse charge will be dropped and he will be convicted of assault.

The maximum sentence for the Class D assault is 364 days in jail. The agreement calls for a 14-day jail sentence. Thompson has no criminal record.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald said the woman reported the offense 12 years after it occurred. He said that at a trial, the defense could challenge why the woman came forth at this time because the two people involved have a child custody dispute.

According to the criminal complaint filed in October, the offenses were alleged to have occurred from November 1999 to April 2000 when the girl was 14 and 15 years old. Thompson was 19 and 20 during the same period.

The prosecutor said that both Thompson and the woman state that she told him at the time that she was 16 years old, which is legal age for sexual consent in Maine.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm agreed that the custody matter and length of time that elapsed before the alleged crime was reported were huge complicating factors for the prosecution and he accepted the deferred disposition.

Thompson was represented by attorney Robert Levine.

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.

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