AUBURN — An Androscoggin County Superior Court jury acquitted a Greene man of 15 counts of sexual abuse Tuesday, apparently believing the testimony of the 46-year-old Roger Hamel Jr. over the statements of a 9-year-old girl.
It took the panel of seven men and five women less than two hours to return not guilty verdicts on all counts, including unlawful sexual contact, sexual misconduct with a child, unlawful sexual touching and visual sexual aggression against a child. Most of the charges were felonies.
Before the trial began Monday, Hamel rejected a plea deal from prosecutors of of 15 years in prison, with five years suspended, plus probation.
A 9-year-old girl testified she had been sexually abused by Hamel at times during 2016 and 2017.
The girl was the prosecutors’ first witness. She said Hamel had touched her private parts, exposed her to adult pornography, masturbated in front of her and showered with her.
Hamel took the witness stand Tuesday, rebutting the girl’s statements and explaining inadvertent incidents where he had touched her accidentally or she had touched him. He denied he ever engaged in sexual abuse.
Hamel’s attorney, George Hess, told the jury his client had been the target of a vengeful ex-girlfriend who had accused him of infidelity and was angry because he had taken possession of a car she had purchased.
Hess said the girl’s mother had likely coached the girl into believing Hamel had abused her. The girl hadn’t revealed the abuse until months after the couple had split.
She told the jury she had been “nervous” about telling of the abuse. Hess said it had taken that long for the mother to prime her daughter.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Dumas told the jury during closing arguments that Hamel’s actions involving the girl had been “calculated, deliberate and opportunistic.”
He asked the jury to consider whether Hess’ explanation made sense.
When summing up his case to the jury, Hess stressed the importance of using reasonable doubt — the highest legal bar for conviction — as a benchmark during their deliberations.
He said a child “can be easily swayed by a parent.”
“He referred to the girl’s mother as a “woman scorned” who had been “teased” by Hamel’s withholding the title to her car.
He pointed to inconsistencies between the testimony of mother and daughter.
Hamel, who had been in custody at the Androscoggin County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail since Nov. 30, 2017, was escorted back to the jail after the verdict where he was to be freed.