The district attorney for Hancock County has decided not to retry a former teacher from Mount Desert Island on charges that he sexually assaulted one of his former students.
Last month, the state supreme court vacated Benjamin Hodgdon’s gross sexual assault conviction, which was the last conviction remaining on Hodgdon’s criminal record.
At his trial in 2016, Hodgdon was convicted on one count each of unlawful sexual contact, sexual abuse of a minor and gross sexual assault. Last year the judge who presided over his trial vacated the unlawful sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor convictions on the grounds that Hodgdon’s trial attorney, David Van Dyke, had been ineffective at trial in defending Hodgdon against those two charges. Van Dyke died in 2018.
Hodgdon, 53, was acquitted at his trial of the additional charges of three counts of gross sexual assault, one count of unlawful sexual contact and one count of sexual abuse of a minor.
On Thursday, Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster said he would not retry Hodgdon for two reasons: Hodgdon already has served the full 42 months of his sentence that was imposed upon his conviction five years ago, and because of a “tremendous backlog of cases awaiting trials” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in courts cutting back significantly on operations for several months.
Foster said that, despite his decision not to retry the case, he believes the evidence shows that Hodgdon committed the crimes he was accused of. Foster continues to support the alleged victim, whom he called “a strong and able woman.”
Hodgdon’s current attorney, David Weyrens of Portland, said that his client has always maintained his innocence and welcomes Foster’s decision not to retry the case.
“Ben has fought for years to prove his innocence and clear his name,” Weyrens said. “Today he stands with no criminal record and no charges pending against him — an innocent man.”