FARMINGTON — A Rumford man pleaded guilty Friday to sexually assaulting a child under 12 in 2012.

Justice Nancy Mills sentenced David Paquette, 36, to serve three years of an 18-year sentence and 10 years of probation. A conviction on the charge carries up to 30 years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine.

Paquette pleaded guilty in Franklin County Superior Court to gross sexual assault in the form of an Alford plea, which is based on a defendant’s belief that he is not guilty but believes that based on the evidence or other considerations a plea bargain is the best thing to do.

A felony charge of sexual misconduct with a child under 12 years old was dismissed in the agreement with the state.

Paquette’s attorney, David Sanders, said he wanted it on record that his client claims he is innocent of all of the charges presented before the court.

However, he believes that if the case went to trial and the state’s evidence was presented, he could be convicted, Sanders said.

Paquette initially was arrested on a charge of sexual misconduct with a child under 12 in December 2012. He was indicted in January 2013 on that charge and a charge of unlawful sexual conduct. He had been held in jail on $20,000 cash bail since his arrest in December. The state dismissed those charges in June 2013 and Paquette was released from jail. A grand jury re-indicted him in July on the more serious charges of gross sexual assault and sexual misconduct with a child in July. He has been held since then on $20,000 cash bail.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins reviewed Paquette’s history with the court, which included a conviction of unlawful sexual conduct in 2008, for which he received a two-year sentence. A felony gross sexual assault charge was dismissed in the case, he said. Paquette also has a 2007 conviction of allowing a minor to possess liquor, two probation violations in 2008 and other convictions, Robbins said.

If the case had gone to trial, Robbins said, evidence would have been presented that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services was notified by a teacher that a child had talked about viewing pornographic material.

Evidence would also be presented that the child was interviewed on different occasions and at first just talked about being disciplined for changing the channel on a show that included pornography and didn’t mention being touched. In another interview, she talked about being touched and reverted to using drawings of what happened in the sexual assault, Robbins said.

Sanders said the child’s statements were inconsistent. She denied being touched and then eight months later in another interview claimed to have been assaulted. He also said that he reviewed the material and the images were not pornographic and it was not the same as what police said was on a video that belonged to the child’s mother.

Paquette told the court the reason he took the plea Friday is that he understood his past is not the best and it could be used against him.

“I haven’t done it,” he said. He told Justice Mills that he could look her right in the eye and say he hadn’t done it.

“This never happened,” he said.

He also said he would never allow a child to view pornographic material.

Mills ordered that Paquette have no unsupervised contact with any female under the age of 18 while on probation and that he comply with the Sex Offender Act.

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