BANGOR, Maine — A 71-year-old Enfield man was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison, with all but nine years suspended, for sexually assaulting a neighborhood girl in the 1980s.

Dean Knights also was ordered to undergo sex offender counseling and rehabilitation and six years of supervised release among a long list of other conditions during a sentencing hearing before Judge Gregory Campbell at the Penobscot Judicial Center.

Knights was found guilty of four counts of gross sexual misconduct during a daylong jury trial in February.

After the sentencing, defense attorney Randy Day of Garland filed for an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Although Day requested that Knights be released pending that appeal, Campbell ordered that Knights be held without bail.

Before the sentence was imposed, Knights’ victim, now 36 and a wife and mother, read an impact statement aloud, detailing how Knights’ crimes have affected — and continue to affect — her life.

“When I was a little girl, I played Barbies, loved the monkey bars and going to school. I learned to do math and read, which opened up a whole new world,” she said. “But that’s not all that was opened up to me. I learned things other girls did not. I learned about sexuality long before I should have. I learned to keep secrets from my entire family because life could crumble with just one word. I learned that if you wait long enough, ‘You can just get it over with.’”

She said the abuse affected her relationships with boys as a teenager, with her husband as an adult and has made her an overvigilant mother because of her fear that someone will hurt her child.

“His actions took away my innocence, my control and my self-esteem,” she said. “In return, I ask you to take away his freedom. Please don’t allow this man on the streets ever again. Please don’t allow him to hurt another little girl by taking from her what he took from me.”

Also addressing the court were Knights’ granddaughter and daughter, who tearfully described him as a caring and kind man who was always helping others.

During Knights’ trial, his victim testified that the abuse began when she was 6½ and continued until she was 9. She said that Knights often baby-sat her and her two younger brothers at his home while her mother worked as a nurse at Penobscot Valley Regional Hospital in Lincoln. She told the jury her father was a binge drinker and unable to care for himself or his children.

The victim said that she was an adult before she told anyone about the abuse because Knights threatened to harm her and told her that if her father found out about the abuse he would do something that would get her father arrested and then she would end up in foster care and be separated from her brothers.

Knights is required to register as a sex offender for life due to a 1990 conviction for unlawful sexual contact with a child under the age of 14, according to information posted on the Maine Sex Offender Registry.

He was sentenced to one year in jail with all but 30 days suspended followed by two years of probation, Almy noted during Thursday’s sentencing. He also was supposed to have undergone counseling at that time but chose not to do so, Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said.

That and Knights’ lack of remorse and unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions were factors in Knights receiving a stiffer sentence than he otherwise might have, Almy said.

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.