Rockport man found guilty of multiple sex crimes
Rockland — A jury deliberated for about five hours before convicting a 44-year-old Rockport man of 14 counts in connection with the sexual abuse of a young girl during a two-year period.
Erik Vultee was ordered to be held without bail pending a sentencing hearing tentatively set for mid-July.
Vultee was convicted June 18 of 11 counts of unlawful sexual touching, one count of attempted gross sexual assault, one count of visual sexual aggression against a child and sexual misconduct with a child.
The now 13-year-old victim testified June 17 she was afraid to tell her family about the sexual abuse until she feared a younger relative would also be abused if she did not speak up. She said Vultee had threatened to hurt her if she confided in someone about the abuse.
In closing arguments, District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau told jurors the victim spoke the truth about what happened to her, and he described the acts of the defendant as grotesque. The victim, though still young, is not the same small, little girl who was threatened, manipulated and abused, he said.
The victim was between the ages of 8 and 10 when the abuse occurred between 2009 and 2011. Vultee was indicted in February 2013 after an investigation was opened by Detective Jason Andrews of the Maine State Police in July 2012.
The victim eventually told a family friend she had been sexually abused, and she did not want it to happen to anybody else.
She told the court the abuse began when she would stay at Vultee's house when her mother would play bingo on Thursday nights with Vutlee's wife. Sometimes her sister would also be at the Rockport home with her.
She said Vultee would holler at her to come upstairs under the premise they would watch Scooby-Doo movies.
She said once she was in the room, Vultee would lock the door, and play pornographic movies. He would tell her to undress, and he would touch her, or sometimes he would have her touch him, she said. On one occasion, the victim said Vultee attempted to have intercourse with her, but she was able to push him away.
During the times of abuse, the victim said she would often close her eyes and try to pretend nothing was happening. She said the abuse occurred more than 10 times, but could not remember exactly how many times.
In closing arguments, Defense attorney Steven Peterson said the victim's accusations were false, either it was a story that got out of hand, or the idea to accuse Vultee was planted in her head by her mother, who at the time, did not have a good relationship with the Vultees. Peterson alluded to a jealousy between the victim's family and the Vultees regarding an inheritance the Vultee's received.
Peterson said there was no proof of abuse, no forensic or physical evidence, and argued speculation was not enough to convict his client.
Erik Vultee's wife, Robin, testified June 17 the victim and her sister were never at her home while she and the girls' mother went to bingo. She told the court the girls would only come to her house for a cook-out or to play with her grandchildren, and were never alone with her husband.
The question of whether there was a lock on the door, as the victim described, was disputed by Vultee and her daughter, Danielle Ward. The women said there was not a working lock on the inside of the door during the years the victim said she was abused.
Vultee said a lock was placed on both the inside and outside of the door after her husband was involved in a car accident and was prescribed pain medication.
The locks were purchased after the accident to secure the medications in the bedroom so their young grandchildren could not have access to it. Vultee said she bought the locks in April 2012.
When Rushlau questioned Vultee, he told her the accident was in 2009, not 2012, and Vultee replied she did not remember the exact date, but reiterated the locks were purchased because of the accident and subsequent prescription.
Peterson said when a search of Vultee's residence was conducted by police, no pornographic films were found. He also stated abuse would be impossible without a witness to corroborate the allegations as the home where the alleged crimes occurred is small and with the victim's sister also at the home on some occasions, the abuse would have been noticed.
Ward, who lived at the Vultee home from 2008 to 2010, said the victim was never at the home alone, and testified her mother and Erik eventually moved in 2008 to Erik's mother's home in Camden to help care for her mother's ill father-in-law. The Vultee's eventually moved back to their Rockport residence in 2010.
Ward said while living at the home, she never saw anything improper between Vultee and the victim.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at email@example.com.