FARMINGTON — A Jay man pleaded no contest Friday to having sexual contact with a woman in March 2014 and was found guilty in Franklin County Unified Court.

Joseph L. Begin, 38, accepted a plea agreement that dropped four felony charges of gross sexual assault. He was found guilty of unlawful sexual contact, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

His trial was to begin Friday with jury selection.

Justice William Stokes said a no-contest plea means the defendant does not admit or deny the charge, however, the court can find them guilty.

Begin was arrested in March 2015 after an investigation conducted by Franklin County Sheriff’s Lt. David St. Laurent and Maine State Police Detective Randy Keaten. The assaults reportedly occurred between March 1 and 31, 2014.

If the case had gone to trial, the woman would have testified that she had become reacquainted with Begin, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins said in the Franklin County Unified Court Friday.

She would also testify that Begin appeared at her home unexpectedly and highly intoxicated, and sexually assaulted her. She went to a hospital the following day and it was confirmed she had been injured, Robbins said.

According to Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. in 2015, the woman was afraid to report the assault because she feared for her life.

Defense attorney Philip Mohlar said Begin recognized that if the state’s evidence was presented to a jury, he could possibly be found guilty.

A sentencing date was tentatively set for Tuesday, Feb. 9. The plea agreement calls for a five-year sentence with all but 15 months suspended and two years probation, Robbins said. Among the conditions would be no contact with the woman.

Mohlar said Begin has been in jail for about 11 months and would be given credit for time served.

In a separate matter, Begin pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault that occurred at the Franklin County jail in Farmington in October 2015.

Nichols previously said Begin and another inmate exchanged words and Begin threw him against a wall, assaulted him, threw him into metal tables and kicked and punched him.

Stokes ordered a $300 fine and 90 days in jail concurrent with the sexual contact sentence.

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