ELLSWORTH, Maine — A former sixth-grade teacher at Tremont Consolidated School has been sentenced to serve more than three years in prison for sexually assaulting a girl who just two years before had been one of his students.

Benjamin H. Hodgdon II, 48, has filed an appeal and remains free on bail, pending the outcome of that appeal, according to court documents filed at the Hancock County Courthouse.

The victim, who is now 30, was an eighth-grader on the Tremont cross-country team coached by Hodgdon at the time of the assaults, according to court documents. The Bangor Daily News does not identify victims of sexual assault.

According to police, Hodgdon sexually assaulted the girl between “30 and 40 times” in 1999 and 2000.

At his jury trial in March, Hodgdon was found guilty of one count each of gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor. He was acquitted of three counts of gross sexual assault, one count of unlawful sexual contact and one count of sexual abuse of a minor.

On Aug. 11, Justice Robert Murray sentenced Hodgdon to 11 years in prison for gross sexual assault but suspended all but 3½ years. Hodgdon received concurrent sentences of three years on the unlawful sexual contact conviction and three years on the sexual abuse of a minor conviction. He also was ordered to serve six years of probation upon his release and to have no contact with children under the age of 18, except his own children and his stepdaughter.

Hancock County District Attorney Matt Foster said Tuesday that as part of the sentence, Hodgdon will be listed as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

At Hodgdon’s trial, Hancock County Deputy District Attorney Norman Toffolon told the jury in his closing arguments that Hodgdon wooed the girl.

“This was a 12-year-old child,” Toffolon told the jury. “This man was saying, ‘You’re special. I love you.’”

In the eyes of the law, the victim was too young to consent, the prosecutor noted.

“It’s not justification for criminal sex abuse of a child,” Toffolon said.

Hodgdon’s wife, Hilary Hodgdon, 28, is being investigated for allegedly sending an anonymous letter to several members of the jury in May, after her husband was found guilty, according to court documents. The question of who sent the letters was investigated by Maine State Police, which then forwarded its findings to the Maine attorney general’s office for review.

Attempts Tuesday to contact representatives of the state attorney general’s office to find out whether Benjamin Hodgdon’s wife faces charges after allegedly contacting jurors were unsuccessful.

The letter, a copy of which is in Hodgdon’s case file, is five pages and focuses mostly on the victim’s background. In an angry, vaguely intimidating tone, the writer insists Hodgdon is innocent and asks whether jurors decided to “compromise” with each other in deliberations over Hodgdon’s verdict.

When Maine State Police interviewed Hilary Hodgdon, she initially denied sending the letter but later confessed to having done so, court documents indicate.

She said Tuesday that she has not heard from the state attorney general’s office and so does not know whether she will face charges. She declined to comment on the letters and referred questions to her attorney, Don Brown of Brewer.

Contacted late Tuesday, Brown declined to comment.

Foster declined Tuesday to comment specifically on Hilary Hodgdon’s situation but said, in general, such attempts to contact jurors should be taken very seriously, even if it is after a case has been adjudicated.

“Hypothetically speaking, I think that sending letters to jurors after a proceeding, anonymously or otherwise and with any type of veiled threats or other matters that could be construed to be harassing or threatening, should be considered to be an attempt to interfere with the justice system and should be scrutinized carefully by the courts and by our community, as the whole process is based on the constitution and affects our most basic rights as citizens,” Foster wrote in an email. “If people are afraid to act as jurors for fear of some type of harassment or retaliation, then our whole judicial system could be impaired. As a prosecutor, I take that type of conduct very seriously.”

To reach an advocate for victims of sexual assault, 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 assistance.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....