AUBURN — A Sabattus man who pleaded guilty to nearly a dozen counts of gross sexual assault over several years against a preteen girl was sentenced Wednesday to serve 15 years in prison.
A reproving Androscoggin County Superior Court judge sentenced Michael Gagnier, 34, of 20 High St. to 25 years in prison, with 10 years suspended, plus 18 years of probation.
Justice MaryGay Kennedy said she was reluctant to accept the agreed-upon sentence, noting that she was “not happy about doing it” and that she likely would have imposed a greater prison term had Gagnier been convicted at trial.
“I think what you have done … is horrific,” Kennedy told Gagnier, who wore a dark blue jail suit.
“You have robbed (the victim) of her ability to have a meaningful, intimate relationship in her life. You have robbed her of her childhood and you have taken all of that,” Kennedy said.
“I don’t think personally or professionally that the sentence is really severe enough,” Kennedy said. It reflects a compromise reached by prosecutors and the defense. “They have convinced me that it is an appropriate sentence,” she said.
Conditions of his probation include no contact with the victim or anyone under age 18. He is barred from having or using alcohol or illegal drugs and will be subject to random searches and testing for them.
Gagnier must take all prescribed medications and undergo evaluations for sex offenders, mental health and substance abuse as well as counseling for all three, Kennedy said. He must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Gagnier stood and told the judge: “I am deeply sorry for all the pain and the emotional stress I have caused … I take full responsibility for what I have done.”
He promised that while incarcerated he would get “the help I need, to become a better person, a better man, a better son, a better dad, a better brother.”
Gagnier admitted last month to 10 counts of felony sexual assault, each punishable by up to 30 years in prison. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of tampering with a victim, a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
An Androscoggin County grand jury indicted Gagnier in June on 38 counts of gross sexual assault. Most of those charges have been dismissed.
Assistant District Attorney Lisa Bogue said at Gagnier’s plea hearing that the victim was 10 years old when she was first assaulted and 13 when the final assault occurred.
In 2012, the victim revealed Gagnier’s actions to a friend at school, who passed along the information to a guidance counselor. The crimes came to light last year when the victim told a friend who told a youth worker at a Lewiston church retreat about the repeated assaults.
Gagnier and his wife, Christal, used force, intimidation or bribes in an attempt to convince the victim to withhold evidence, according to the indictment.
A Sabattus police officer said Gagnier admitted having sex with the girl over a three-year period, confirming the victim’s allegations. He said he was using pills at that time.
Gagnier had no prior criminal record.
He was arrested and charged nearly a year ago; his wife, Christal, 26, was arrested in June on a sealed warrant after an indictment by a grand jury on three counts related to her husband’s criminal activities: one count of tampering with a victim and aggravated unlawful furnishing of scheduled drugs, punishable by up to five years in prison. She also was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail. She was released on $5,000 cash bail.