PORTLAND — A former Auburn music teacher is seeking a 10-year prison sentence following his conviction of two sex-related crimes stemming from trips to New Hampshire with an 11-year-old former student.
James Raymond Jr., 29, of Auburn was convicted in May in U.S. District Court on two counts of transporting a minor across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. His sentencing is set for Friday.
In a memorandum to the court, Raymond's attorney, Richard Hartley of Bangor, asked this week that the court diverge from federal sentencing guidelines that call for minimum sentences of 10 years for each of the two counts. The maximum for each count, under the guidelines, is life in prison.
Hartley wrote that Raymond has “uncommon abilities as a teacher” and he is focused on bettering himself so that he can “once again be a positive member of society,” though in a role that doesn't involve working with children.
Moreover, Hartley wrote that the details of Raymond's crimes are less offensive than other similar ways the crime can be and has been committed. “The defendant's conduct must fall at or very near the bottom ... on a continuum,” he wrote.
Hartley pointed out that prosecutors echoed that sentiment in an earlier memorandum to the court and quoted from that document: “the defendant's conduct 'is thankfully less egregious than that which often underlies violations' “of the federal law under which Raymond was convicted.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Wolff recommended Raymond be sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison, plus 10 years supervised release. Hartley is seeking five years supervised release, the minimum under federal guidelines.
Raymond's conviction followed a four-day trial at which he and his victim, now 14, testified. A judge determined that Raymond intentionally touched the girl's buttocks repeatedly while waiting for a ride at Canobie Lake amusement park in Salem, N.H., in 2007.
Raymond took the student, then 11, and her 9-year-old sister to the park twice during that summer. Judge D. Brock Hornby said Raymond didn't touch the girl accidentally, but for sexual gratification. Hornby also said Raymond arranged the circumstances of the trip to provide an opportunity for him to carry out those actions.
Raymond, who had been released on bail and confined electronically to his home pending his trial, has been held at Cumberland County Jail without bail since shortly after his conviction.
The girl's testimony often conflicted with statements made by Raymond, who took the stand in his defense.
In making his ruling, Hornby wrote that he found Raymond "had motivation to lie" to police and to the court because "his liberty and music teaching career both are at stake."
Raymond's attempts, Hornby found, "to explain away the damaging statements that he made about his interest in young girls to the Auburn detective during the videotaped interview were wholly unpersuasive," and that his court testimony of the circumstances of contact between himself and the girl were not credible.
In 2008, Raymond was tried and convicted in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn on five charges: two counts of unlawful sexual touching and three counts of assault. The three girls involved were Raymond's music students at the time of the incidents in April 2005 and September and October 2007.
One girl was a first-grader at East Auburn Community School, another was a second-grader at Park Avenue Elementary School and the third was a fifth-grader at Webster Intermediate School.
The judge allowed the prior Superior Court conviction to be presented during the federal trial, over the defendant's objection, to show motive and intent, according to the ruling.
During the period of those crimes, Raymond was a teacher at Park Avenue and East Auburn elementary schools. He also was an assistant marching band instructor at Leavitt Area High School in Turner, a founder of the Central Maine Children's Theater Project and an instructor for the Central Maine Children's Chorus.