Feds heap praise on detective for work with young victims

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AUBURN – The federal government is saluting an Androscoggin County Sheriff’s detective for his work with two young girls who were kidnapped and raped by a man in Leeds.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office formally praised Detective William Gagne for his handling of the case that ultimately sent a man to prison for 33 years.

U.S. Attorney Paula D. Silsby praised Gagne for providing “outstanding service to crime victims during a federal prosecution by ensuring that victims’ rights have been upheld and that they have been treated with dignity and respect throughout the criminal justice process.”

Between Oct. 25 and Oct. 27, 2004, 39-year-old George Yeaton raped two girls, under the age of 16, according to court records. Prosecutors said Yeaton threatened the girls with a shotgun and bound one of them with duct tape and rope and put her in a closet.

Yeaton was arrested Oct. 28 of that year after the mother of one of the girls called police to report that he had the girls and would not let them go. Yeaton held police at bay in a short standoff but was ultimately taken into custody.

“These kids were not only victimized sexually, but there was a firearm involved,” Gagne said. “There was that additional element of fear.”

Over the next several months, Gagne acted as liaison between the victims and the District Attorney’s Office, in one instance giving the family a ride to the courthouse when they had no other means to get there.

Yeaton was ultimately charged with 22 felonies, including a federal gun charge and charges of rape, kidnapping, terrorizing and criminal restraint. He was prosecuted on both federal and state charges.

“Putting a kid through a trial like that is always difficult,” Gagne said. “But they did a good job. They got to tell their side of it.”

Gagne, who has been with the ASO for 16 years, was credited for his work on the case and for keeping the victims and their family apprised as the prosecution proceeded through the court system.

“This wasn’t me doing everything alone,” Gagne said. “This was definitely a team effort.”

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