Man gets one year in prison for sex assault reported 10 years later

By Juliette Laaka | Jul 28, 2016
Source: Knox County Jail Jessie Gehrmann

Rockland — A 29-year-old Waldoboro man pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from the sexual assault of a child 10 years ago.

Jessie J. Gehrmann was arrested in March and charged with three counts of gross sexual assault and three counts of unlawful sexual contac for reportedly assaulting a then-6-year-old victim, who is now 16. The defendant pleaded to one count of gross sexual assault and one count of unlawful sexual contact. The remaining counts were dismissed.

The full sentence imposed by the court is seven years in prison, with all but one year suspended, and a period of three years of probation to follow his release.

Gehrmann will register as a lifetime sex offender, and is not allowed to be within 1,000 feet of the victim's home, place of employment or education. He is also not allowed unsupervised contact with children under age 18, and is ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation and sex offender counseling.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald said the victim did not want to testify at a trial, and said she and her family are in support of the sentence, and an important part of the sentence for them was that the defendant register as an offender.

Judge Patricia Worth accepted the sentence, but warned Gehrmann he had better forgo further criminal activity in his life or a judge will not be willing to accept a shorter sentence again. She said a harsher sentence was warranted, but that he was willing to spare the victim and the community a trial is a mitigating factor. "Make a life for yourself that doesn't include where you're standing right now," she said.

Fernald said part of the reasoning in negotiating the deal was the fact that there is no physical evidence to present at trial because the case is 10 years old, as well as some confusion regarding the age of the victim at the time of the assaults.

The crimes are reported as occurring over a period of months during the summer of 2006, but Fernald said the crimes could have occurred during a six- to nine-month range.

The abuse was reported in October when the mother of the victim was concerned for her daughter's welfare after noticing signs of self-abuse. When questioned, the victim disclosed the sexual assault she had suffered as a young child. The Knox County Sheriff's Office was contacted with the information in October, and the case was then transferred to Detective Jason Andrews of the Maine State Police.

In a warrant for Gehrmann's arrest filed March 9, Andrews described interviews he conducted with the victim, her family and Gehrmann. Andrews went to the gravel pit where the victim said the assaults took place to document the area, and said the victim became emotional while at the location.

When questioned about the allegations, Gehrmann denied sexually assaulting the victim and claimed her mother was attempting to get him into trouble because he stole from her, the warrant said.

The victim told Andrews that Gehrmann said he would kill her and her mother if she told anybody what he did.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said that in 1991 the Maine Legislature eliminated the statute of limitations on bringing gross sexual assault cases to court when the victim was less than age 16, if the assault occurred after 1985. Several years later, the Legislature again eliminated the statute of limitations on charges of unlawful sexual contact for victims less than age 16, because child victims are are more likely to report abuse much later.

Philip Cohen was appointed to represent Gehrmann.

Reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@villagesoup.com.

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