FARMINGTON — A Franklin County justice sentenced a Wilton man Friday to one year in prison for sexually abusing two girls younger than 16.

Upon his release, Peter J. Essman, 65, he will serve four years of probation. He also will have to register with the state for 10 years as a sex offender.

Essman pleaded guilty Sept. 3 to one felony count of unlawful sexual contact and one misdemeanor charge of unlawful sexual touching. The state dismissed two identical charges in a plea agreement.

Essman’s attorney, Walter “Woody” Hanstein, said he knows Essman is remorseful for what he has done to the girls.

Essman declined to address the Franklin County Superior Court.

Justice Donald Marden also sentenced Essman to 364 days to run concurrent with the felony sentence, which was four years with three suspended.

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The incidents occurred between Feb. 2, 2011, and Feb. 1, 2012.

Wilton police had received a referral from Maine Department of Health and Human Services in late January and launched an investigation, police Chief Heidi Wilcox previously said. He was arrested March 8.

Assistant District Attorney James Andrews said earlier this month that if the case went to trial, the girls would have testified that Essman touched them unlawfully under the premise of giving them back rubs. There would also be testimony that Essman told police it was accidental, Andrews said.

Prior to sentencing, Marden put it on the record that there was a conference in chambers with Essman, Hanstein, Andrews and an assistant attorney general with child services in regards to a third child, as requested by the state.

Essman was ordered to have no contact with the two girls, and to have no contact with the other child until she reaches age 18, if she wants to have contact.

He was also ordered to have no contact with girls younger than 16.

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Marden said the record should state that the two girls disagree with the three years suspended in the sentence.

If Essman breaks the law he may have to serve the remaining three years, followed by four years of probation, he said.

Essman began serving his sentence Friday.

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