NEW GLOUCESTER — Authorities said Monday they have charged a former chief of the Maine State Police after investigating reports that he sexually abused a child younger than 12 years old.

Andrew E. Demers, 73, of Bald Hill Road, New Gloucester, was charged with unlawful sexual contact, a Class B crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

He was booked at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland at 9 a.m. Monday and later released on $5,000 cash bail, a corrections officer said.

Demers was ordered to have no contact with anyone under age 16.

According to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department in Portland, reports of the abuse came to the department a week earlier. Detectives from the department’s Criminal Investigation Division conducted “several extensive interviews” of witnesses and the suspected victim.

The abuse reportedly occurred over a period of several months. The victim was known to Demers, according to a written statement released by the department.

Col. Robert Williams, chief of the Maine State Police, said in a statement Monday that his agency is “stunned by the allegation, and saddened for the victim and their family. Our thoughts and concerns are with them.”

Williams said his agency learned about the allegations last week and “immediately” referred the case to Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department.

“To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest,” Williams’ agency suggested the county department investigate the matter, Williams wrote. “We have had no further involvement in the investigation.”

Demers served for 26 years with the Maine State Police, having joined the department in 1967. He was named chief 20 years later, in 1987. He served as chief for six years. Demers retired in 1993, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for Maine State Police.

In 2003, he was named Legendary Trooper, a distinction handed out once a year to retired troopers.

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