Raymond waives jury at trial

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PORTLAND — A former Auburn schoolteacher and convicted sex offender who is scheduled to go to trial later this month has asked that a judge — rather than a jury — render the verdict.

James Raymond Jr., 29, waived his right earlier this week to a have a jury hear his case. Jury selection was expected to get under way Monday.

Raymond is charged in federal court with two counts of transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent of engaging in criminal sexual activity. The maximum sentence for each felony count is life imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years. The maximum fine is $250,000.

The trial is expected to last up to five days, court papers said. Prosecutors plan to call up to a dozen witnesses over two days, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Wolff’s trial brief filed in U.S. District Court.

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Witnesses include an 11-year-old girl referred to in court documents as “Jane Doe” to protect her identity. Doe, who lived in Auburn, had been Raymond’s student at an Auburn school, Wolff wrote.

Raymond twice drove Doe and her younger sister to New Hampshire to visit Canobie Lake Park in Salem during the summer of 2007 after telling their mother he was taking kids who otherwise couldn’t afford such a trip. Raymond had told Doe’s mother the trip would include other adults and children. But when Raymond showed up at the girls’ home to pick them up, he told the mother the other participants had canceled.

Wolff wrote that he expects Doe to testify that Raymond took her and her sister to his house in Auburn before driving to New Hampshire. At his house, the two girls watched television with him and “he repeatedly asked them to join him on his bed, but they refused.”

During the drive to the park in New Hampshire on one of the trips, Raymond “touched her leg and said that she had soft legs. When they were at the park, (Raymond) touched Jane’s breasts and buttocks,” Wolff wrote.

He also wrote that witnesses saw Raymond sit at the back of a bus with Doe during a field trip to New Hampshire with Auburn schools chorus groups in June 2007. The witnesses saw him “rubbing Jane’s leg and buttock area. The witnesses thought the situation was uncomfortable and that the defendant’s actions were unusual.”

Wolff wrote that federal agents interviewed Raymond in September 2007 about child pornography Web purchases the two previous years. Raymond told them he struggled with interest in child pornography and had gone to his pastor for help after realizing his interest was wrong.

Wolff’s case will include an interview Raymond had with Auburn police. He told a local detective that he had “urges” to touch young girls and felt the need sometimes to “put his hand up a student’s skirt or touch her buttocks.” He said he was most attracted to second- and third-grade students.

Raymond was convicted in 2007 in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn on two counts of unlawful sexual touching and three counts of assault. The three girls involved had been Raymond’s music students. He was released on probation following a 60-day sentence.

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