Brant Perkins, left, and attorney Justin Andrus attend Perkins’ sentence hearing in Lincoln County Superior Court on Friday, April 29. Credit: Abigail Adams | Lincoln County News

WISCASSET, Maine — A karate instructor found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor and tampering with a witness in July 2015 was sentenced in Lincoln County Superior Court on Friday, April 29.

Brant Perkins, 57, of Boothbay Harbor and formerly of Edgecomb, was sentenced to a total of two years in jail and five years of probation for charges that also included possession of sexually explicit materials, or child pornography.

Perkins entered an Alford guilty plea, similar to a plea of no contest, to possession of sexually explicit material of a minor in February. Perkins intends to appeal all charges, according to his attorney, Justin Andrus.

Perkins was arrested in March 2013 and charged with sexual abuse of a minor, a class C felony, for an incident involving one of his karate students, a 15-year-old girl. Perkins was 54 at the time of the incident.

Perkins was also charged with two counts of tampering with a witness or victim, both class B felonies, for instructing the victim to lie to law enforcement about their relationship.

In the course of the investigation, law enforcement found child pornography — images of sexual assaults on young girls — on Perkins’ cellphone. He was charged with possession of sexually explicit material of a minor under 12, a class C felony.

Perkins successfully petitioned the court to separate the charges for the purpose of a trial. A jury found Perkins guilty of sexual abuse of a minor in July 2015. The tampering charges were “tried to the court,” or decided by a judge, in July 2015. Perkins was found guilty on each count.

In February, Perkins entered an Alford guilty plea for possession of sexually explicit material of a minor, on the condition that he would be able to appeal the charge after sentencing.

On April 29, Perkins was sentenced to 15 months for sexual abuse of a minor to be served consecutively to the two tampering with a witness charges. He was sentenced to seven years with all but nine months suspended and two years of probation for each tampering charge, to be served concurrently with one another.

For possession of sexually explicit material of a minor, Perkins was sentenced to three years, all suspended, and two years of probation, to be served consecutively with the other charges. Due to a special arrangement with the court, the sentence will be served at Two Bridges Regional Jail, instead of a Department of Corrections facility.

The sentencing results in a grand total of two years of jail time and five years of probation, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Liberman said. Liberman has represented the state since charges were first filed in 2013.

“I’m happy with the results,” Liberman said. As part of his probation conditions, Perkins will be evaluated, and, if deemed appropriate, go through sex-offender treatment.

The sentence also carries a lifetime registration on the sex offender registry, Liberman said. “I feel as though this is resolved,” he said. “Obviously, there will be another phase.”

Perkins will appeal all charges now that sentencing is complete, Andrus said.

“It was difficult for him,” Andrus said of Perkins’ guilty plea to the child-pornography charge. “He had a lot of reservations about admitting to something he didn’t do.”

According to Andrus, had Perkins gone to trial for the possession charge, the defense would have been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the pictures found on Perkins’ phone were placed there by someone else in his household.

There were only a handful of pictures found on Perkins’ flip-phone, and they had been placed on the phone during a five-minute time period in one day, Andrus said.

The defense had a witness who suggested Perkins did not have his phone at the time the pictures were placed on it. However, after speaking with law enforcement, the witness recanted, Andrus said.

“We think law enforcement tainted the witness,” Andrus said.

Perkins was re-arrested in January 2015, while awaiting trial, and charged with an additional count of tampering with a witness for allegedly instructing another karate student to fabricate a journal in order to establish an alibi for the time stamp on the sexually explicit photos on Perkins’ phone.

The additional tampering charge was dropped as a result of the plea deal. “He entered the plea so he could move on with his life,” Andrus said.

As for the guilty verdicts for the sexual abuse of a minor and the two tampering charges, “we respectfully disagree with the court’s decision not to grant a mistrial,” Andrus said.

According to Andrus, the jury was allowed to hear out-of-context statements Perkins had made that were not in relation to the charges. While the jury was asked to disregard the statements, Andrus said a mistrial should have been granted.

An appeal to all charges will be filed; however, Andrus was unsure what the timeline for the appeal will be.

Perkins has been incarcerated at Two Bridges Regional Jail since his January 2015 arrest. He will receive credit toward his sentence for time served, Liberman said.