A 45-year-old Augusta man with an extensive criminal history of sexual assault and violence against women was sentenced June 20 to 55 years in prison.

A Knox County jury had previously found Bradley W. Lemay guilty of gross sexual assault, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, eluding an officer, attempted escape, and tampering with a victim.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm handed down the sentence for the crimes in Knox County Superior Court after hearing arguments from both the state and Lemay’s defense attorney about the appropriate sentence.

In addition to the 55-year sentence for gross sexual assault, Hjelm gave Lemay concurrent maximum sentences for all of the other crimes, which amounted to 10 years for tampering with a victim, five years for criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, one year for attempted escape, and five years for eluding an officer.

Before he starts serving that sentence, he must first complete the five-year sentence he is currently serving for other crimes. That sentence had previously been suspended, but the suspension was revoked when he was found to have violated probation by committing new crimes.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald described Lemay as a serial rapist, and said he has shown a complete lack of remorse for his crimes.

Lemay was convicted of entering a woman’s home and raping her at knifepoint over a four-hour period.

Fernald had asked for a sentence of 76 years in prison, arguing that Lemay’s extensive history of rape and violence made it necessary for the state to keep him in prison to protect the public and provide deterrence against such crimes. In addition, he argued Lemay was no longer a candidate for probation or rehabilitation.

Lemay’s criminal history started with a conviction of rape and burglary in 1983 when he was a juvenile. He served two years in the youth center for those crimes, Fernald said. In 1986, when he had only been out of the youth center a short time, he was convicted of threatening a woman in her basement with a knife. She got away, but Fernald argued Lemay likely intended to rape her. By 1989 he had been convicted again of gross sexual assault.

He served more than 20 years in prison, and committed this new crime shortly after being released.

In a letter to the court, his victim stated that she no longer feels safe and cannot concentrate on her work. “In a way, much of my world has collapsed,” Fernald said, reading from her letter. Hjelm also mentioned information from her letter, noting that as a result of the crimes committed against her, she has withdrawn from her social world.

Fernald argued the trial traumatized her all over again, because Lemay has never taken responsibility.

Fernald pushed for consecutive sentences on all of the convictions against Lemay.

Hjelm noted some technical reasons why, under the law, it did not make sense to have consecutive sentences rather than concurrent ones. For one thing, he said that since the gross sexual assault conviction allowed for any sentence of any length, he did not need to stack sentences on each other. In addition, he stated that while Lemay has been convicted of multiple crimes, there are standards for how connected to each other those crimes need to be to impose consecutive sentences.

However, the justice noted that the sentence would be consecutive with the five-year sentence Lemay is already serving.

Defense attorney Christopher MacLean argued that 76 years was a very heavy sentence, more in fact than was typical for murder convictions.

He also argued there were mitigating factors, saying Lemay was gainfully employed and enjoyed the support of his family. Hjelm rejected those arguments, stating that Lemay used his employment to gain access to his victim.

The defense also noted that Lemay has had an unfortunate life spent mostly in institutions. Hjelm said Lemay’s sad life was remote in time at this point, and his time in institutions was the result of his choices.

The tampering in the case came when Lemay wrote a letter to his brother asking him to threaten the victim. In the letter, he said to tell her people are watching her and she better not do anything stupid or she would get hurt, Hjelm said, reading from the letter. Lemay told his brother to make the threat seem real and to say the police wouldn’t be able to protect her all the time.

Lemay’s brother turned the letter over to the authorities.