SABATTUS — A High Street man was in the county jail Thursday accused of sexually abusing a girl over a period of four years beginning when she was 9 years old.
A church youth worker helped lead police to 33-year-old Michael Gagnier, of 20 High St., who was arrested Tuesday in Lewiston on a charge of gross sexual assault. He was being held at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn on $50,000 cash bail.
According to a police affidavit, the girl told investigators Gagnier had abused her at least four times a month over the past four years. In the court document, Gagnier is quoted as calling the girl a "home wrecker" and blaming his actions on medication he takes for thyroid issues.
Police said Gagnier admitted that he abused the girl, saying to a detective: "I am a good man, never meant for this to happen and when I am able, I want to try and make things up. I pray that you will have mercy on me, please."
According to the affidavit, the girl recently told a youth worker at a Lewiston church that Gagnier had been sexually abusing her. A child protective caseworker spoke with the girl, now 13, as well as her mother, who was said to be "in shock" after hearing about the sexual abuse. When that woman confronted Gagnier about the allegations, he admitted it, according to the court document.
On Tuesday, Sabattus police Detective Sgt. Gary Baillargeon, accompanied by the caseworker, went to the Department of Health and Human Services in Lewiston where Gagnier had agreed to meet them, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit said Gagnier broke down crying and confessed to a long period of sexual abuse, saying: "Pretty much whatever she says is true."
Baillargeon wrote in the affidavit: "Michael first started to blame his addiction to prescription medication. He stated, 'It is real foggy; I was taking 30-40 pills (of percocet) a day, and morphine.'"
According to the court document, Gagnier told police he had intercourse or other sexual contact with the girl about twice a week. He described several sexual encounters and told Baillargeon he often would take a break from it for several months at a time. When the detective asked how many times Gagnier had sexual relations with the girl, "Michael broke down and started sobbing and stated, 'I can't put a number to it,'" according to the affidavit.
Gagnier, a father of three, moved to Sabattus four months ago, according to the affidavit. Prior to that, he lived on Howard Street in Lewiston.
While police investigated the accusations, Gagnier's three daughters were removed from his home.
Often, Gagnier told police on Wednesday, he would pray with the girl, sometimes with their hands on a Bible, because, "I really wanted to stop," according to the affidavit.
Gagnier has a minor criminal history that includes a conviction for criminal trespassing in 1998, for which he paid a fine.
On Wednesday, Gagnier made an initial appearance in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn before he was returned to jail.