ROCKLAND, Maine — A 27-year-old Waldoboro man was sentenced Monday to 13 months in prison for a sexual assault against a 13-year-old last year.
Jason Merrifield pleaded guilty Monday in Knox County Superior Court to unlawful sexual contact. A more serious gross sexual assault charge was dismissed in exchange for the plea.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm sentenced Merrifield to three years behind bars with all but 12 months suspended and placed him on probation for an additional two years. Hjelm also ordered Merrifield to serve the remaining 13 months of a previously suspended jail term on a burglary and theft conviction. The two sentences will run at the same time.
Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody said that the Knox County Sheriff’s Office received a referral from the Maine Department of Human Services about the crime that occurred in May.
Police interviewed Merrifield who was already in jail for violating his probation on the burglary and theft convictions. He admitted having sex with the victim but said he believed she was 17 years old, according to the prosecutor.
Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt said that the defense would have presented evidence, if the case had gone to trial, that the victim had portrayed herself as much older than 13 years old on an Internet profile. He acknowledged that the victim told police she had informed Merrifield she was only 13.
Merrifield will have to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years and must have no direct, unsupervised contact with children younger than 16 years old, other than his own child.
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.