LEWISTON – A Lewiston firefighter was arrested Thursday and charged with raping a young girl over a period of years in the 1990s.
Donald Lagrange, 54, of 22 Baril St., was charged by Auburn police with three counts of gross sexual assault. He was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail but was released on bail Thursday night.
Police arrested the longtime firefighter at his home at about 5 p.m. The arrest was the result of an investigation that spanned at least a year, police said.
Earlier this week, the victim of the alleged rapes flew to Maine from North Carolina to testify before a grand jury, which handed up indictments against Lagrange.
A detective called the woman Thursday afternoon to advise her of the arrest. Later in the evening she described herself as overwhelmed with relief.
“You have no idea,” she said during a phone interview. “Right now, I’m on top of the world.”
The woman, now 26, said she was raped by Lagrange when she was a child and that it continued until she was 16 years old and moved away. She said she contacted police in part because Lagrange remained a firefighter.
“Kids look up to you and trust you,” she said. “To abuse that trust is just terrible.”
The Sun Journal does not identify victims of alleged sexual assaults.
The woman said she spent much of the past year going through various documents with police as the case was put together. She looked over binders filled with records from the Department of Health and Human Services dating back to when she was 13 years old, as well as medical reports dating back to when she was 8, she said.
The case was investigated by Auburn police Detective Jason Moore. By the middle of the week, he had gathered enough evidence to present to the grand jury, which rose this week.
“The detective worked really hard,” the alleged victim said.
Lagrange is no stranger to legal problems. He has a criminal history in the area, including arrests on charges of terrorizing and assault.
In July, he was charged with driving while intoxicated and failure to provide information about a vehicle accident after a crash on King Avenue, a short distance from his home.
According to police reports, Lagrange crashed his vehicle into a parked car. The impact forced the car into the side of a garage, causing damage to that building.
Police who went to investigate found Lagrange nearby and arrested him. Those charges were still pending when he was arrested on the more serious charges Thursday night.
How the arrest will affect Lagrange’s employment with the Lewiston Fire Department remained unclear Thursday night. When he was charged with fleeing a crash in July, police turned over notes from their investigation to Fire Chief Paul LeClair.
On Thursday night, the chief said he could not comment on the matter until he had a chance to speak with the city administrator and others on Friday.