Christian Averill’s lawyer plans to appeal the sentence.

AUBURN – A 22-year-old Sabattus man was sentenced Friday to spend 24 years in prison for raping a Bates College freshman in a campus bathroom last spring.

With time off for good behavior, Christian Averill will be at least 42 when he is free.

Imposed by Justice Thomas E. Delahanty II, the sentence exceeded the state’s recommendation by two years and the defense’s by more than 10.

Delahanty justified the lengthy punishment by pointing out that Averill did not know his victim, that he forced her to have sex by pretending to have a weapon and that he has shown no remorse.

A tall man with a bulky chest and a boyish face, Averill crossed his hands behind his back and showed no expression when the judge announced the terms of his sentence.

When Delahanty asked if he had anything to say, Averill mumbled, “No.” Then he lowered his head.

After the hearing, Averill’s lawyer, George Hess, said he planned to appeal the case to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court because he believes the judge’s sentence of 34 years with all but 24 suspended is too harsh given the circumstances of the crime.

Hess asked for a 12-year sentence, which is the amount that he and Assistant District Attorney Deborah Potter Cashman negotiated last January as part of a plea agreement.

After reviewing reports from both lawyers and Averill’s probation officer, Delahanty rejected the deal as being too lenient.

The judge’s decision left Averill with two choices: withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial or maintain the plea and allow Delahanty to impose a sentence that he believed suited the crime.

Averill chose a trial, and it took a jury less than 20 minutes in March to convict him of the crime.

“This rape ranks as one of the most heinous ways the act could be committed,” Delahanty told Averill Friday.

According to court testimony, the victim was studying for finals at Pettengill Hall in April 2002 when she decided to take a break and go to the bathroom.

Averill was waiting for her when she opened the door. She testified that he put her in a headlock, covered her mouth and shoved her into a stall where he raped her for a few minutes.

Nearly two months later, Averill was arrested after it was discovered that DNA samples taken from the victim matched his DNA profile, which was entered into the Maine State Crime Lab’s database in 1999 when he was convicted as a juvenile in another sexual assault.

More than a year after the assault, the victim continues to suffer from depression and panic attacks, according to her father who spoke at Friday’s hearing.

“The crime has left scars that will stay with her for the rest of her life,” the victim’s father said. “I’m hopeful that justice will give her some solace and some measure of closure.”

Averill’s uncle apologized to the victim and her family on behalf of his family, then he asked Delahanty to give his nephew another chance.

“He’s really lived a hard, terrible life,” Timothy Andrews said, referring to abuse that Averill suffered as a child. “He needs help and rehabilitation. He just turned 22. He has his whole life ahead of him. I just think he needs another chance.”

Delahanty said he considered Averill’s young age and his childhood problems as reasons to take years off the maximum sentence of 40 years. But other factors, such as his juvenile record and his “callous attitude toward sex,” were more compelling, he said.

In addition to the rape at Bates, Averill was charged last year with raping a local woman in June 2001. The case went to trial earlier this week, and a jury found Averill not guilty after deliberating for an hour.

The victim in that case claimed that Averill approached her as she was walking along Canal Street in Lewiston at about 11 p.m. on June 15, 2001. She says that he put her in a headlock, then raped her in the back of his pickup truck.

Averill claimed that he picked up the 24-year-old woman while she was hitchhiking. He admitted to having sex with her but he has claimed all along it was consensual.

Delahanty said he considered the circumstances of the case, even though Averill was acquitted.

“If nothing else, it demonstrates his callous attitude toward sex and his attitude toward women as objects,” he said.

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