PORTLAND — The former head of the Maine State Police, who is accused of felony sexual assault against a young child, appeared at the Cumberland County Courthouse on Tuesday for preliminary talks in the high-profile case.

Former Maine State Police Chief Andrew Demers, 74, a decorated law enforcement veteran once named a “Legendary Trooper” by his colleagues, is facing one count of gross sexual assault and one count of unlawful sexual contact with a person younger than 12.

The charges stem from an incident allegedly involving a young member of Demers’ family. Demers of New Gloucester was arrested March 17 and initially charged with Class B unlawful sexual contact with a person younger than 12. He was released on $5,000 cash bail.

A Cumberland County grand jury in April indicted Demers on the more severe count of Class A gross sexual assault and Class B unlawful sexual contact, which prosecutors say occurred in February and March of this year.

Demers pleaded not guilty in April.

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said in March that a tip from a previous employee of Demers at the Maine State Police spurred the investigation. Detectives then investigated reports of “an ongoing unlawful sexual contact situation,” and interviewed witnesses and a suspected victim.

Joyce said Demers admitted to detectives that he had unlawful sexual contact with a younger member of his family.

Demers’ attorney, Walter McKee, met with Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson and Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court Judge E. Mary Kelly in a dispositional conference in Portland on Tuesday.

Demers was in the courthouse, but did not stand before the judge or engage directly in the talks.

McKee told reporters he had no comment on what was discussed with the judge and prosecutor, but said another dispositional conference will take place on Aug. 26.

Dispositional conferences are opportunities for attorneys representing both sides to meet with a judge in a formal setting and discuss the progress of a case.

Demers served 26 years with the Maine State Police and held the position of chief from 1987 to 1993, when he retired.

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