A 55-year-old Union man, who has been free on parole for 19 years for the 1975 beating death of a child, is back behind bars after being convicted of clubbing a motorist last November.

Steven R. Clark was sentenced April 28 in Knox County Superior Court to five years in prison for aggravated assault. Clark had entered a plea of no contest to the charge, which would allow him to contest the allegation in a civil lawsuit filed against him by the victim.

The aggravated assault charge resulted from an incident on the evening of Nov. 4 in Union. Clark was driving home and pulled into his driveway and then rapidly backed out, nearly striking another vehicle. Clark and the other driver got out and had a verbal confrontation. The other driver, Paul D. King of Union, was leaving to get back in his vehicle when he was struck several times in the back of the head by Clark with a wooden club.

King has filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages. King’s suit states that he suffers from blurred vision and memory loss as a result of the attack. Justice Jeffrey Hjelm agreed to place a lien of $40,000 on Clark’s property to protect any judgment that King might receive.

In the police report filed by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Clark admitted to striking King with the club. Clark told officers that he had feared for his life but could not explain why that was the case. A defense statement filed in court states that Clark was pleading no contest because, while he could have raised a self-defense argument, he understood that the evidence could lead to a conviction.

There were several letters in support of Clark including one from the former deputy warden of the Maine State Prison, Paul Doughty.

“Many people make mistakes but few have the opportunity to turn their life around and become a contributing, caring, honest citizen. In my opinion, Steven has been able to do just that,” Doughty stated in his letter to the court.

There was also a letter submitted by the National Guard to thank Clark for volunteering for a month and removing scrap iron at the site of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 attacks.

Clark was 21 years old when he was convicted by a jury in Knox County Superior Court of murder in the death of 23-month-old Jared D. Wright in Union. Clark was watching the child for his mother. Testimony from medical authorities stated that the child was covered with numerous bruises when he was brought to the Knox General Hospital on July 16, 1975. The child was not breathing and could not be revived.

The trial was one of the most prominent held in the region. Jury selection was so difficult that the judge ordered deputies to go onto the streets around the courthouse and bring citizens in as potential jurors when too many of the pool of jurors called in originally had heard of the case.

Clark was sentenced to life in prison but under then Maine law, a parole board would hear requests by prisoners for release. Clark is one of the few people still serving under the parole system that was replaced in the late 1970s by specific sentences followed by probation.

Clark has been free on parole for 19 years. He was sentenced to nine months in jail in 1990 for possession of a firearm by a felon, an offense that occurred when he was out on parole.