AUBURN — A husband and wife pleaded not guilty Friday to charges stemming from accusations that the husband sexually abused a girl over a four-year period.
Michael Gagnier, 34, of Sabattus was charged in a grand jury indictment Wednesday with 38 counts of gross sexual assault and a count of domestic violence assault.
The sexual assaults are Class A felonies, punishable by up to 30 years in prison; the domestic violence assault is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail.
He and his wife, Christal Gagnier, 25, of Lewiston are charged with tampering with a victim, a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and aggravated furnishing of scheduled drug, a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. They also are charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.
Christal Gagnier also pleaded not guilty in Androscoggin County Superior Court on Friday.
Michael Gagnier was arrested and charged in February; his wife was arrested on Thursday on a sealed warrant.
Bail for Michael Gagnier was set Friday at $25,000 cash or $50,000 real estate lien. Conditions for his release include no possession or use of alcohol or illegal drugs and no contact with his alleged victim nor with his wife. He must have no contact with anyone under age 16, the judge said.
Christal Gagnier’s bail was set at $5,000 cash.
The indictment charges that the couple used force, intimidation or bribes in an attempt to convince the alleged victim to withhold evidence.
The couple is also accused of giving the girl azithromycin, an antibiotic commonly used to treat infections, including sexually transmitted diseases.
Endangering the welfare of a child, a charge faced by Michael and Christal Gagnier, alleges that the couple recklessly endangered the health and safety of the girl, now 13.
The allegations came to light when the alleged victim told a youth worker at a Lewiston church that Gagnier had been sexually abusing her, police said. The case was investigated by Sabattus police Sgt. Gary Baillargeon. In his original affidavit, Christal Gagnier was said to be “shocked” by the allegations against her husband.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.