AUBURN — A jury trial got underway Monday for the wife of a Sabattus man who is serving 15 years of a 25-year prison sentence for raping a preteen girl over a period of three years.

Christal Natasha Gagnier, 26, faces two felonies and a misdemeanor in connection with the actions of her husband, Michael.

Natasha Gagnier was charged with tampering with a witness, which, if Gagnier is convicted, means she would face up to 10 years in prison. She also was charged with aggravated furnishing of scheduled drugs, punishable by up to five years in prison. A third charge, endangering the welfare of a child, is a misdemeanor.

Assistant District Attorney Lisa Bogue told the jury of eight men and six women that Natasha Gagnier provided the victim with a medication to treat a sexually transmitted disease the girl apparently contracted from Michael Gagnier.

Bogue said Natasha Gagnier also coached the victim what to say to police, including the omission of certain facts, before an interview last year.

Gagnier’s attorney, Allan Lobozzo, told jurors on Monday that his client had only the victim’s best interest in mind when she dispensed the medication to the girl in an effort to combat the sexually transmitted disease that might otherwise have robbed the girl of her reproductive health.

Lobozzo said Michael Gagnier invented an imaginary boyfriend for the victim to explain the need for Natasha Gagnier to help the victim undergo repeated pregnancy tests, evidence that Natasha Gagnier didn’t know about her husband’s sexual assaults against the victim.

As Michael Gagnier’s mental health declined, Natasha said she suffered increasingly heightened emotional, physical and sexual abuse at his hands and her actions were influenced by that abuse, Lobozzo said. He said Michael Gagnier began sexually abusing Natasha when she was 12, then later married her after she turned 18.

Lobozzo said Michael Gagnier had been ordained as a minister before coming to Maine with Natasha. He suffered delusions about his authority under God , Lobozzo said.

Prosecutors had offered Natasha Gagnier a plea agreement before trial of three years in prison with all of that time suspended except for six months in jail. She rejected the offer, Lobozzo said.

A two-day trial is expected.

In 2012, the victim revealed Michael Gagnier’s actions to a friend at school, who passed along the information to a guidance counselor. Later questioned by police, the victim denied the abuse after she was threatened and verbally abused by Gagnier, according to prosecutors.

Michael Gagnier’s long-term assaults of the victim re-emerged last year after the victim disclosed again to the same friend, who, in turn, told a youth worker at a Lewiston church retreat.

A Sabattus police officer said Gagnier admitted having sex with the girl over a three-year period, starting when the girl was 10, confirming the victim’s account. Gagnier said he was abusing narcotics at that time.

He was arrested and charged nearly a year ago; Natasha Gagnier was arrested in June.

Michael Gagnier eventually pleaded guilty to nearly a dozen counts of gross sexual assault and one count of tampering with a victim.

He was indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury on more than three dozen counts of gross sexual assault.

After serving 15 years in prison, Gagnier will be on probation for 18 years.

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