AUBURN – The man convicted of raping a Bates College student on campus made a tearful apology Friday before getting the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
It was the second time Christian Averill had been sentenced for the 2002 crime. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court threw out the first punishment, saying it was up to a jury to decide whether Averill’s act was among the “most heinous” to happen to a person. The jury concluded Wednesday it was not.
Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Thomas Delahanty II could only impose up to 20 years this time. He did so Friday, saying, “I could not in good conscience reduce it.”
Averill, 25, of Sabattus stood, sniffed and told the judge: “I can say I am truly sorry for what I did.” He sat and wiped away a tear.
Averill declined to speak at his first sentencing three years ago.
With time off for good behavior, Averill could be released after 13 years, said his lawyer, George Hess. He had asked for 15 years for his client, with all but 10 suspended.
Averill’s mother asked for a light sentence, explaining that her son had been a victim of child abuse, suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and had to be medicated at a young age. He was “damaged badly” and never got counseling, she said. “I’m asking the court not to lock him away,” she said.
Delahanty said the way in which Averill raped his victim in the bathroom of a campus building elevated the sentence into the top tier. Given the high likelihood that Averill would rape again if released pushed the sentence higher, he said.
“That is of huge concern to the court,” he said. Rehabilitation is unlikely, he said. “The future is bleak.”
Averill had denied being on campus that night but DNA from semen on the victim and her clothes matched his sample sitting in a state lab from a juvenile sex assault.
Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cashman had asked for the maximum sentence, noting Averill had expressed no remorse until Friday’s sentencing. She said Averill has shown aggressive and destructive behavior since he was in preschool and has not sought help to change.
Cashman read a letter from the mother of the victim, who did not appear at the retrial on his sentencing held this week.
The victim, now a senior at Bates, continues to struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and probably will for the rest of her life, Cashman read. She “will graduate…because she is a fighter and determined to set her own course in life, however, the cost to her has been enormous. The sexual assault has affected both her physical and mental well-being,” her mother’s letter said.
Averill’s criminal acts have gotten worse over the years, not better, making him a danger to society, Cashman told the judge.
Hess said the maximum sentence should be reserved for rapes that involve aggravating elements such as kidnapping or injury. Averill won’t get the kind of therapy he needs in prison, Hess said.